Fennel is anise-like with notes of licorice and citrus. After you have cooked it, it takes on a less intense taste and can even be liked by licorice haters. There are many recipes you can use fennel in. You can simply roast or braise it as a side dish.
Make a fennel gratin, pasta with creamy fennel sauce, a white bean and fennel soup, fennel-rubbed pork tenderloin, or baked haddock with tomato and fennel. However, what if you have a lot of fennel and don’t think that you will be able to eat it all before it spoils? Can you freeze it? Yes, you can, and in this article, we will tell you how to freeze fennel and how to defrost it.
How To Freeze Fennel?
You can freeze both fennel bulbs and fennel leaves.
How To Freeze Fennel Bulbs
1. Prepare the fennel.
Remove the tough outer leaves first, and then cut off the stalk. Slice or cube the fennel, depending on how you plan to use it. If you chop the fennel rather than freeze it whole, it will be quicker to defrost.
2. Blanch the fennel.
It is important to blanch the fennel to ensure that it retains taste and texture, as well as nutrients. Put the pieces of fennel in a pan of boiling water and boil for 30 seconds. Drain them and plunge them into a bowl of ice-cold water. This stops the cooking process.
3. Dry the fennel.
It is important that you dry the fennel and don’t freeze the wet fennel. If you don’t, ice crystals will form on the fennel and when you come to defrost it, it could be mushy.
4. Flash-freeze the fennel pieces.
If you do this, the pieces of fennel won’t stick together when they are bagged up and you will be able to remove only as many pieces as you need. Get a baking tray and line it with a sheet of greaseproof paper. Lay out the fennel slices or cubes, making sure that they aren’t touching each other. Freeze for three to four hours until they are frozen solid.
5. Put the pieces of fennel in a freezer bag.
Make sure that you squeeze out all the air from the freezer bag so that freezer burn doesn’t occur. Freezer burn will ruin the taste and texture of your fennel. Alternatively, put the pieces of fennel in an airtight container. Put a label on the bag or container with the date and contents.
How To Freeze Fennel Leaves
Fennel leaves are fragile so be careful with them. They need to be handled gently so that they don’t lose taste and texture. This is the way to freeze them.
1. Prepare the fennel leaves.
Separate the leaves from the stalk using a knife, scissors, or your fingers. Throw away any damaged leaves, keeping only the vibrant green leaves.
2. Freeze the fennel leaves in an ice cube tray.
Put the leaves in the slots of an ice cube tray and then cover them with water or oil. Put the ice cube tray in the freezer and freeze. It will take about four hours for them to freeze solid.
3. Put the ice cubes in a freezer bag or airtight container.
Squeeze out all the air from the freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Put a label on the bag or container.
For How Long Can You Freeze Fennel?
You can keep both fennel bulbs and leaves for between five and six months in the freezer. However, you must ensure that the fennel is airtight and moisture-free otherwise your fennel will lose both taste and texture, as well as nutrients.
How Do You Defrost Fennel?
The texture will have changed a little after freezing so it is best not used raw in a salad (see also Can You Freeze Spring Onions?). Despite this, the taste and aroma will be just the same as fresh fennel.
The best way to defrost the slices or cubes of the fennel bulb is to put them in a bowl and defrost them slowly and steadily in the fridge. This helps to keep more of the texture and taste. Take them out of the freezer the night before you want to eat them.
If you want to use ice cubes containing fennel leaves, you can just put them straight into the dish you are cooking. The ice will melt quickly, and the flavor of the fennel leaves will permeate the dish.
Can You Refreeze Fennel?
Fennel is delicate so if you refreeze it, it will deteriorate in texture and won’t be at all delicious. If you flash freeze the fennel, the pieces won’t stick together so you can remove as many as you need. This will eliminate the need for refreezing. You can even freeze fennel in meal-size portions.
Does Fennel Freeze Well?
Yes, fennel does freeze well as long as you keep it airtight and moisture-free. It might not be quite as crisp as fresh but you will still get all the delicious flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing fennel, but in case you are still curious, we have answered a few questions here.
If you haven’t cut your fennel, you can keep it for around 10 days in the fridge. If you have sliced or cubed your fennel, it will only keep for about two days in the fridge.
It is safe to freeze fennel bulbs without blanching but you will find that the texture deteriorates, and the flavor isn’t as strong. In addition, you will probably lose some of the nutrients.
Yes, you can. Once it has cooled down, divide it into meal-size portions and put it into freezer bags or airtight containers.
There are plenty of things you can do with fennel leaves. Make a pesto out of them, add them to risotto, use them as a base for cooking fish, add them to pasta, or use them in soup.