Can you preserve fennel fronds?

Fennel is a versatile vegetable that can add flavor to many dishes. Both the fennel bulb and the delicate, feather-like fronds are edible and delicious. Fennel fronds, also called fennel leaves, have a mild anise-like flavor. They can be used fresh or preserved to enjoy their taste long after harvest.

Can You Freeze Fennel Fronds?

Freezing is one of the easiest ways to preserve fennel fronds. To freeze fennel fronds:

  • Pick fronds just before use. Choose young, tender fronds without signs of wilting or discoloration.
  • Wash fronds gently under cool water. Pat very dry with paper towels or a salad spinner.
  • Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in the freezer until completely frozen, about 1-2 hours.
  • Transfer frozen fronds to an airtight container or freezer bag. Squeeze out excess air and seal. Label with the date.
  • Frozen fennel fronds will keep for 6-8 months.

To use frozen fennel fronds, simply remove desired amount from the freezer. Let thaw completely before using. Use within a day or two for best quality.

Tips for Freezing Fennel Fronds

  • Freeze fronds soon after harvesting for maximum freshness.
  • Avoid overcrowding fronds when freezing or they may clump together.
  • Blanching is not necessary before freezing fennel fronds.
  • Chopped frozen fronds are easier to measure for recipes than whole fronds.

Can You Dry Fennel Fronds?

Drying or dehydrating is another simple way to preserve fennel fronds. To dry fennel fronds:

  • Select fresh, undamaged fronds. Wash and dry thoroughly.
  • Spread fronds in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 95°F until completely dried, about 4-6 hours.
  • Alternatively, spread fronds on a baking sheet in a 200°F oven. Prop door open slightly. Dry for 2-3 hours, flipping halfway.
  • Check frequently to prevent burning. Fronds are done when crispy and crumbly.
  • Crumble dried fronds from stems. Store in an airtight container for 3-6 months.

Dried fennel fronds have an intense, concentrated flavor. Use about half the amount of fresh fronds. Crumble over dishes just before serving.

Tips for Drying Fennel Fronds

  • Dry fronds quickly after harvest for best flavor retention.
  • Avoid over-drying, which causes loss of flavor and discoloration.
  • Store completely dried fronds to prevent mold growth.
  • Write the date on containers for tracking freshness.

Can You Preserve Fennel Fronds in Oil?

Fennel fronds can also be preserved in oil. This captures their flavor beautifully. To preserve fennel fronds in oil:

  • Select fresh, tender fronds. Wash and dry very well.
  • Loosely pack fronds into clean, dry jars. Pour extra virgin olive oil over fronds, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Tap jar gently to remove air bubbles. Add more oil to cover if needed.
  • Seal lids. Refrigerate and use within 1 month.

The oil takes on the lovely flavor of fennel. Use it for sautéing veggies, drizzling over soup, or dipping bread.

Tips for Preserving Fronds in Oil

  • Only refrigerate, do not store at room temperature.
  • Use clean utensils to remove fronds to prevent contamination.
  • Discard if you see signs of mold or spoilage.
  • For longer storage, add acid like lemon juice to help prevent botulism risk.

Can You Pickle Fennel Fronds?

Fennel fronds can be preserved by pickling. This gives them a tangy, robust flavor. To pickle fennel fronds:

  • Rinse fresh fronds and dry very well.
  • Pack fronds into clean jars. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup vinegar, 1 cup water, and 1 tbsp salt to a boil.
  • Pour hot brine over fronds to cover. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.
  • Tap jar to remove air bubbles. Seal lids.
  • Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Adjust canning time for altitude if needed.
  • Pickled fronds keep 12 months unopened, 1 week refrigerated after opening.

Enjoy pickled fennel fronds as a flavorful garnish or addition to salads, pastas, fish, and more.

Tips for Pickling Fennel Fronds

  • Use a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water for the brine.
  • Add whole spices like black peppercorns or red pepper flakes for extra flavor.
  • Check seals after processing and refrigerate any unsealed jars.
  • Label jars with pickle ingredients and date for reference.

Can You Freeze Fennel Fronds in Oil or Butter?

Another easy way to preserve fennel fronds is freezing them in oil or butter. This captures their bright, aromatic flavor. To freeze fennel fronds in oil or butter:

  • Wash fresh fronds and dry thoroughly. Roughly chop.
  • Combine chopped fronds with olive or vegetable oil in an ice cube tray. For butter, combine with melted butter and freeze.
  • Freeze until solid, then pop cubes out of tray. Transfer to freezer bags or containers.
  • Label with content and date. Use within 6 months.

Add the flavorful oil or butter cubes to sautés, pasta sauces, soups, and more. The fennel flavor will infuse as the cubes melt.

Tips for Freezing Fennel Fronds in Fat

  • Use a ratio of about 1/4 cup chopped fronds to 1/2 cup oil or butter.
  • Let cubes thaw a bit before adding to hot dishes to prevent splattering.
  • For longer storage, double bag cubes and squeeze out excess air.
  • Avoid freezing fronds packed in oil at room temperature due to botulism risk.

Can You Make Fennel Frond Pesto?

One of the tastiest ways to preserve fennel fronds is to make them into a flavorful pesto. Fennel frond pesto can be frozen for long term storage. To make fennel pesto:

  • Rinse 2 cups packed fennel fronds and dry very well.
  • Place fronds in a food processor. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup nuts, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 cup parmesan, and salt to taste.
  • Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
  • Transfer to an ice cube tray or muffin tin. Freeze covered until firm, about 2 hours.
  • Pop out pesto cubes and transfer to bags or containers. Label and freeze for up to 6 months.

The flavorful pesto can be tossed with pasta, used as a sandwich spread, dolloped over soup, and more. Enjoy the taste of summer fennel all year long!

Tips for Making Fennel Frond Pesto

  • Pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds work well in fennel pesto.
  • Add lemon zest for extra bright flavor.
  • Freeze pesto in ice cube trays for easy use later.
  • Let pesto cubes thaw in refrigerator before using for best texture.

What Are the Best Ways to Use Preserved Fennel Fronds?

Preserved fennel fronds are versatile and can enhance many savory dishes. Here are some of the best ways to use frozen, dried, pickled, or pesto fennel fronds:

  • Salads – Crumbled dried fronds or thawed frozen fronds make flavorful salad toppers.
  • Pasta – Toss pasta with fennel frond pesto or dried fronds before serving.
  • Seafood – Sprinkle pickled fronds over fish for a tangy accent.
  • Roasts – Coat meat or vegetables with fennel-infused butter or oil before roasting.
  • Sautéed veggies – Add a few thawed fronds while sautéing to impart flavor.
  • Soup – Float a frond-flavored pesto cube in soups as it simmers.

Use preserved fennel fronds soon after opening for the best flavor. Their aroma and taste diminish over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you store fresh fennel fronds?

Fresh fennel fronds should be stored lightly wrapped or in a perforated bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Properly stored, they will keep for 3-5 days.

Do fennel fronds freeze well?

Yes, fennel fronds freeze very well. Spread in a single layer and freeze on a baking sheet before transferring to bags. Frozen fronds will keep for about 6-8 months.

Can you substitute dried for fresh fennel fronds?

Dried fennel fronds can be substituted for fresh but use about half the amount. They have a more concentrated, intense flavor.

How long do preserved fennel fronds last?

Properly stored, frozen fennel fronds last 6-8 months. Dried fronds keep 3-6 months. Fronds preserved in oil keep 1 month refrigerated. Pickled fronds will last 12 months unopened.

What are the best fennel frond uses?

The best uses for fennel fronds include salads, pastas, sautéed vegetables, roasted meats and veggies, seafood dishes, pesto, and garnishing soups. They lend great flavor to many recipes.


Fennel fronds are a delicate and flavorful part of the fennel bulb. Preserving them is simple, and lets you enjoy their anise-like taste well beyond the fresh fennel season. Freezing, drying, pickling in vinegar, and pesto are all great options for storing fennel fronds. Use your preserved fronds to elevate salads, roasted meats, pastas, and more!

Preservation Method Storage Time Best Uses
Frozen 6-8 months Salads, pastas, sautés
Dried 3-6 months Garnishing soups, roasted vegetables
Pickled in vinegar 12 months unopened Salads, sandwiches, fish
Pesto 6 months Pasta, pizza, bruschetta

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