Sauerchi Recipe: Using Fennel in the Ferment

Fennel has wonderful versatility.  It provides a delicate and subtle anise-like sweetness, and every part of the plant has culinary use:  The root/bulb, stalks, fronds, flowers and seeds all have a role to play in fennel recipes.

In general, I find that the sugar-content and tenderness of fennel decreases as you go higher on the plant, while the anise-like sweet-spice flavor increases from bottom to top.  To me, this generally means

“use the bulb and lower, tender and younger stalks like a vegetable; use the higher stalks, fronds, flowers and seeds like herbs and spices”

Recently, I applied this principle using the Saueressen Process to create a fennel-spiced Sauerchi.  I used about a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio of fennel to red cabbage by weight.  I chose turmeric due to its subtle earthy flavor to complement and enhance the fennel without overpowering fennel’s relatively delicate flavor.  I relied mostly on the fennel for the pesto, using just enough onion to smooth out the texture.

Recipe:  Fennel-Turmeric Sauerchi

  1. Brine the base ingredients:
    1. Shred and salt the red cabbage to prep it for the self-brine.
    2. Separate out the fennel bulb from the rest of the plant.  Shred it like you would cabbage, and mix it with the cabbage.
    3. Cover, weight and self-brine the fennel bulb-cabbage mixture for 24-48 hours, until the salt seems equally distributed throughout the brine.
  2. Sometime after step #1 above and #3 below, make the fennel pesto:
    1. Chop the fennel stalks and fronds perpendicular to the grain (so you don’t get something stringy and fibrous) into small chunks, no longer than 1″ (the shorter the better).
    2. Food process a generous amount of fennel seed with an onion base.   The onion provides additional sweetness and protection for the ferment, and it improves the texture of the pesto.
    3. Add the chopped fennel fronds and stalks to the onion-seed mixture and continue processing into a thick paste.
    4. Mix with turmeric, cover and set aside.
  3. Drain the brine from the base ingredients, mix with the pesto, and crock the Sauerchi.

While I never know how something’s going to turn out, I always strive to produce amazing flavors and combinations on the way in.  My first thought in tasting this recipe was, “I don’t want to share this with others!”  Always a good sign.  I should have approximately three gallons of this recipe available this winter.  And, yes, I plan to share it with others!


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