Find out how to properly store fennel so you can keep those aromatic bulbs and fronds as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
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Credit: Getty Images / Claudia Totir

Fennel, with its characteristic licorice-y fragrance and flavor and distinctive fronds that look a lot like dill (they are different plants!), is widely available year-round, although peak season is fall through spring. The vegetable, with feathery fronds attached to slender stalks that stick out of the bulbous base, looks a bit alien-like. Each part has multiple uses: enjoy the bulbs raw, cooked or pickled, use the stalks to flavor broths and use its fronds as you would other fresh herbs. Read on to find out how to select and properly store fennel so you get the most out of this versatile veg.

What to look for when buying fennel

When choosing fennel, look for firm, white bulbs. If the stalks and fronds are attached, the stalks should be smooth and the fronds dark green and unwilted. Avoid fennel bulbs with brown spots and any tears or breakage.  

How to store fennel 

Refrigerate fennel wrapped in a kitchen towel or paper towels or in a bag for up to 10 days. (If the stalks and fronds are attached, remove them and store separately.) To avoid molding, don't wash fennel until you are ready to use it.

Since fennel is made up of mostly water, keep this vegetable in the warmer parts of your refrigerator to preserve its texture and flavor—think the top shelf, in a drawer or in the door of your fridge.   

How to store fennel stalks and fronds separately from the bulb 

If you were lucky enough to buy fennel with the stalks and fronds attached, separate them from the bulb when you get home. You can place them upright in a jar of water on the counter (so pretty!). Alternatively, you can wrap and refrigerate them for up to a week. 

You can also remove the leaves from the stalks and store each part separately. Loosely wrap the stalks before refrigerating, and store the fronds as you would herbs, wrapped in a damp paper towel in an open plastic bag.

How to freeze fennel

Wondering whether you can freeze fresh fennel? Yes, you can—especially the stalks and leaves. The best way to store them is by freezing the leaves and stalks together and the bulb on its own. To freeze the fronds on their own, treat them as you would herbs. Learn how to freeze fresh herbs here

To freeze the stalks with the fronds intact, simply place them in a freezer-safe plastic bag (pressing out as much air as possible), seal and store in your freezer for up to six months.

While the bulb can be frozen, the high water content, which gives fennel its signature crispness, becomes a liability. When the water in the vegetable freezes, it ruptures the cell walls, resulting in loss of texture and flavor. To mitigate this, you can blanch it before freezing. 

Pickled fennel

Preserving fennel by pickling is a tasty and useful way to store the vegetable. The secret to good pickled fennel is not only vinegar and sugar but also fresh dill and lemon zest, like in this delicious recipe for Crispy Walleye with Pickled Fennel. Or, use this quick and easy pickling recipe that works with a wide array of veggies and is flavored with champagne vinegar, mustard and coriander seeds and black pepper. 

Bottom line

Fennel is a versatile vegetable that offers multiple uses and requires mindful preparation and storage—your fridge is your best bet! You can refrigerate fennel whole or store it in its separate parts: bulb, stalks and leaves. All parts may also be frozen, just remember freezing requires a little extra prep.

Now that you know how to store fennel, it's time to start meal planning. Try fennel in this delicious dinner that requires only one skillet, Salmon with Fennel & Sun-Dried Tomato Couscous, or in this summery pasta dish, Farfalle with Tuna, Lemon and Fennel.