How to Invest in (Fennel) Stalks and Fronds

fennel bulb with stalks and fronds

Never waste fennel stalks and fronds again!

For the last few weeks, after I’ve returned home from the farmers’ market, I’ve roasted lots of vegetables such as potatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, zucchini and fennel—but not all together. My daughter and I love them. I will slice up a fennel bulb, roast it with olive oil and a bit of salt and gobble the entire thing up myself (sorry daughter…at least I bought three bulbs on Sunday).

This week, the vendor I buy my fennel from told me that no one wants the stalks (the stuff that looks like celery) and fronds (the wispy herb-like parts) so I grabbed a bulb with them, in addition to my two without. I told her that I would challenge myself this week to cook something tasty and simple with the whole fennel. She asked me to let her know her next week what I make.

Latest farmers’ market haul with three fennel bulbs, one with stalks and fronds attached

My initial thought was to make potato-fennel soup, following the recipe I use for potato-leek soup but swapping out the leek for the fennel. Then I took to Instagram and asked people for their ideas to use up fennel stalks and fronds. I received a pile of replies. Instagrammers love fennel!

Crowdsourcing on Instagram
Candy?! :O
My mouth is watering…
I wish I had bought more fennel!
A good excuse to adopt a guinea pig?

A condensed list of ideas for fennel stalks and fronds

These aren’t even half the responses. I’ve included a handful of links to recipes I found online for some of these ideas. I haven’t tried these recipes myself—I’m simply trying to save you some time searching—but I chose the ones that I thought looked best.

  • Brew fennel tea. Steep the fronds in hot water. If you have some dried fennel seeds, toss some of those in also.
  • Add to broth. Here is my recipe for vegetable broth from scraps
  • Whir up some pesto. This Melissa Clark recipe looks good. You really can’t go wrong with Melissa Clark’s recipes.
  • Use the stalks in the same way as scallions. First strip the stalks of the fronds and pick an idea from this list for those.
  • Use the stalks in the same way as the bulb. Roast it, toss it in soup or slice it finely for salads.
  • Use the stalks in place celery in almost anything. Sometimes in my home, we struggle to polish off an entire bunch of celery. We might manage better with the smaller number of stalks on a fennel bulb.  
  • Use the fronds like a garnish. Add them to salad dressing, green salads, potato salads, roasted vegetables, eggs, dips, pasta dishes, juices and smoothies.
  • Ferment the stalks in sauerkraut or pickles. Or use the fronds like dill in pickles.
  • Make frond fritters from David Tanis cookbook. I couldn’t find the recipe but here is the cookbook.  
  • Make a gratin layered with potatoes and fennel chimichurri. This Ina Garten potato-fennel gratin dish looks good. It doesn’t have chimichurri in it but here is a basic recipe for that. Add some fennel to it.
  • Make fennel salt or fennel candy. These sound fantastic! You’ll find both recipes on this blog.
  • Distill anisette 😵
  • Feed to your guinea pigs. 

I should have bought more fennel! And those aren’t all of the responses! Thank you to my IG peeps for all of your brilliant ideas to use up fennel stalks and fronds and reduce this particular type of food waste. I will relay them to the farmer next week.

A 100 percent return on your money

My fennel bulbs without the stalks and fronds cost $1. With them, they cost, well, $1. Those stalks and fronds make up at least half of the fennel. So by buying the bulbs with the stalks and fronds attached, I basically double my money. And that’s a guaranteed return.

9 Replies to “How to Invest in (Fennel) Stalks and Fronds”

  1. I foresee a price increase in fennel fronds and stalks. . . but a decrease in food waste!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hahaha! Yes we may experience a fennel bulb craze 😀

  2. I do use fennel a lot, but you have given me some great new ideas.

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Hilda,
      That’s high praise because you use absolutely everything in the most amazing ways! I was in Picton in August. I wish I had let you know. Next time I’d love take the ferry over and see you 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

  3. I love fennel, but now that I’m gardening, I’ve started growing it so that I can eat as much as I want for free. I have learned a few interesting things: 1. There is a “bronze” fennel, a perennial with purplish fronds, that is grown for its flavorful seeds, rather than the bulb. I planted some, probably too many, and they are gorgeous. 2. A lot of plants don’t like to grow next to fennel, many people say to plant away from everything else. So far they are OK next to my cabbages, but my nearby beans withered away as soon as the fennel really got started. 3. They take a long time to grow.
    This is a wonderful list of things to do with fennel stalks and fronds – thank you!

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Anne,
      Thank you for sharing this helpful information on growing fennel. These are all great tips!
      ~ Anne Marie

  4. Thank you very much! I always try to save all that I can in food. My blog is “Primo non sprecare” and it means First, Don’t waste”

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Hi Paola,
      My pleasure! It’s crazy to waste food for so many reasons. That’s a great name for a blog 🙂
      ~ Anne Marie

      1. Thank you! And you are a very useful inspiration 🙂

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