Fennel, pennel, kennel, mengel, prengel, pringle. Love every single fennel, prengle in my garden. Let’s freeze some fennel, kennel, pennel. This is the fennel freezer song. Let’s read some more and sing along!
Fennel Freezer song (this is an exclusive song)
It’s time to freeze some fennel! Did you grow a bunch of fennel in your garden or just bought a lot because there was this crazy promotion or fennel is in season and you want to preserve some for winter? No matter how the fennel came into your kitchen (please, don’t kill anyone to get some fennel, that would be too much), you are getting ready to freeze it for later!
Freezing fennel isn’t too hard, but it is recommended to follow certain steps, to preserve as many nutriments as possible. Read the steps below or watch my video on freezing fennel for a two minutes overview or a longer take on freezing with some fun aspects and a short cameo of Dionysse, my cat.
How to freeze fennel?
- Cut the leaves and the bottom (roots) of the bulb
- Wash the fennel bulb
- Cut the fennel in smaller parts, if necessary, take out the heart
- If necessary, but normally not, wash again
- Boil the fennel for 30 seconds and immediately after cool in ice cold water
- Dry the pieces and put them in small plastic bags
- Push out as much air as possible and close the bags completely
- Open the freezer and stack your fennel inside!
Here are 5 freezer rules
Rule 1: Don’t open your freezer
The first rule of preserving vegetables and food in general is not to open your freezer when you don’t need to. If you open it too often, just to admire your beautifully stacked packs of prepared meals or because you like the cold breeze on a hot summer’s day, the inside temperature will get out of balance. This is really bad for anything inside of your freezer. It can cause spoilage and that’s not what we want, isn’t it? Your freezer will also have to work harder, which causes higher electricity bills. So be a good boy or girl and only open it when you really need to get something from it and close it right after!
Rule 2: Label your plastic bags
If you use small plastic bags, make sure you label them with the date of freezing and the right contents. Preferably write down the information with a permanent marker before you fill the bags. In case you use reusable (plastic or glass) boxes you can use printed labels. Anyway, make sure you label it. Once a package is completely frozen, it can be hard to figure out what is what. For example, if you have a frozen vegetable soup and a frozen broccoli soup next to one another, it is hard to figure out what is what. Make sure you don’t put too much in one bag, try to focus on making portions. If you need more for one or the other recipe, you can always take out more portions, but it is not ok to put back defrosted vegetables in the freezer if you took out too much.
Rule 3: Reduce the air in the recipient
By removing as much air as possible, you avoid the chance of freezer burn. That is a situation in which the frozen food starts to dry out and on one side you will see ice crystals formed. You can vacuum the bags or boxes with a specific machine for this, or do like me, push out the air. For this, close the bag, but leave an opening of about 2cm. Flatten the bag and when you feel that there is almost no air left, close the bag completely.
Rule 4: Boil and cool
Before freezing, it is recommended to blanch the fennel. This is a way to stop different processes in the plant that may change the colour, texture and reduce the favour. It is like adding a sunblock to your vegetable. Is this a valid comparison? It may not, but anyway, it stops the vegetables from changing while being frozen. This doesn’t mean the fennel can be frozen eternally without losing all its flavour and nutriments. The maximum time to store your fennel in the freezer is 6 months.
My advice to quickly boil the water is only filling your pot with five to ten cm of water and boiling the rest in an electric kettle. Once the water in the kettle boils, you add it to your pot. Make sure you don’t burn your hands or arms with any splashes of hot water!
Some other advice to get icecold water is using the coldest tapwater and adding coldpacks (the flexible for the kitchen, you can see them in my video link) or ice packs. When you use water icecubes, the cubes melt way faster than the ice packs and it is less efficient. Also, if you need to do it in more than one batch, you can put your icepacks back in the freezer and because they are made with a special product, they freeze faster.
Rule 5: Choose wisely on what you’re keeping
You can use any part of the fennel, from the root to the leaves, watch Jamie Oliver’s video on different uses. But if you don’t have a habit of using all the parts, I wouldn’t freeze it all. You can try out some parts freshly if you want to experiment, but it is useless to stack your freezer with plants you’re not going to use. If you want to preserve different parts, I’d recommend to put them in separate bags or in different smaller portions. The process is mostly the same as preparing the bulb.
Chopped, you can mix the leaves in a pesto or in a cold sauce or in a vinaigrette. They serve as a herb. I image they’d be also delicious with some cold smoked salmon. Raw, fennel, so without blanching and without freezing, your fennel bulbs are magnificent in a salad with small potatoes. Remember that your fennel is never getting crunchy again after you froze it. So take advantage of fresh fennel when you have it and give raw fennel your first choice of preparation when they are in season. Cooked, there is a big diversity of uses for the bulb: plain, boiled with vegetable stock; with pasta, salmon and a white sauce; a friend of mine pours maple syrup on it and cooks it in the oven; mash it with potatoes etc. The stems can be used in stocks and the roots may also have a use!
My last remark: don’t get greedy
If you are growing fennel in your garden, make sure you give them enough space. This year I made the mistake of planting too many fennels on 1m² and they had to compete too much to get the sun. Let my mistake be a lesson for you and give your fennels more space, but if you want to experience the failure yourself, be free to do so 😉
You see that even with a small freezer, you can preserve quite some vegetables, one of them is fennel, from your garden. There are many other ways to preserve vegetables as by canning or dry freezing. This, we may try with next year’s harvest!
How did you preserve your fennel and how do you prepare it? Share it in the comment section!