We’ve got an over abundance of flowering fennel right now. It takes over quite a large corner of our garden but rather than dig up the bulbs to eat, the flowering fennel is something we want to keep – the bees and wasps absolutely love it. As well as helping wildlife, attracting wasps to our garden helps keep our caterpillar population at a minimum – companion planting for the win!
I don’t use much fennel in my cooking. I like to use fennel fronds in cucumber salad – served with feta cheese it’s delicious, but I’ve never done anything with fennel flowers. I’ve always wondered if I could perhaps share the fennel flowers with the bees and wasps, and I thought about pickling cucumbers with fennel instead of traditional dill. I gave it a go and was pretty delighted with the results. So delighted in fact that I thought I’d share the pickled cucumber recipe with you guys. The fennel gives the pickled cucumber that extra flavour hit. And the good thing is the recipes uses only a few flower heads so there will be plenty left for the bees and wasps!
One note before you get started – I made one large jar and five small jars of cucumber pickle, so make sure you’ve got enough jars to hand for your pickled cucumber! You also want to ensure your lids are vinegar proof – meaning there isn’t any metal that can touch the vinegar. If you don’t use vinegar proof lids, the vinegar can react with the metal lid, giving the pickled cucumber a metallic taste.
If you’re using old jars that you’re recycling then look for lids with a plastic lining in them. They good thing is if you’re using jars that previously contained any kind of pickle, chutney, mayonnaise or tomato sauce then the lids are sure to be vinegar proof. The only lids I’ve seen which aren’t vinegar proof tend to be lids from honey jars. Kilner clip jars are also good for pickle making.
Easy Pickled Cucumber Recipe with Fennel Flowers
adapted from Debora Robertson