Every part of the fennel bulb is edible, and the roots, bulb, shoots, fronds and seeds all carry the same intoxicating, aniseedy fragrance in varying intensities. It is not everybody’s favourite flavour vegetable, but I have not yet found a person who does not love this jam.
The fennel is cooked down with vinegar and brown sugar until it is sweet, jammy and sticky. You can use the jam with either savoury or sweet applications. The whole bulb is used – there is no waste at all. The jam goes perfectly in sandwiches, on toast, with cheese, topping a base of potato, polenta or cauliflower puree, or as part of a tapas or mezze table. Or just use as a chutney.
The recipe originates from The Guardian, and we’ve adopted and adapted it as a family favourite.
Choose fennel bulbs with stems and fronds intact if you can. Use the fronds as a herb: elevate a salad with them, add to salsa verde, add it to your cooling drinks, or chop and sprinkle over any dish to add an unmistakable fennel aroma.
1kg whole fennel (approx 3-4 bulbs)
375g brown sugar
Finely slice the fennel bulbs and thicker stems. Chop the slices into 2 pieces if they are large. Put the slices into a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and season with a generous pinch of salt. Add the sugar and vinegar, bring to a boil, then simmer,uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the mix is sticky and jam-like. This can take some time as the fennel exudes its own water. So time will vary with your fennel. Keep an eye on it, but it can take from 30 mins up to an hour or more over a low-medium heat.
Roughly chop the fronds (if you have any), and add for the last few minutes of cooking. Place into sterilised jars and seal. Keep in the fridge.