Wild fennel was first brought to Australia in The First Fleet's seed inventory, but was popularised for cooking by the Italian and Greek migrants of the 1950s.
I foraged some wild fennel from a big fennel bush near an athletics oval that I have been eyeing off whilst walking home from work, and I'm using it to cure some homegrown olives, Sicilian style, that I was gifted by a friend. Loving the bounty during this olive season!
Sicilian Style Olives (4 ingredients only):
- Homegrown olives
- Sea salt (or any unrefined salt)
- Wild fennel (seeds and stalks)
- Extra virgin olive oil
Submerge the olives into filtered water in a large jar or bucket. Change the water every day for 1-2 weeks.
The olives are now ready to be placed in jars into a strong solution of brine.
Dissolve salt in boiling water, about one cup of coarse rock salt to 8 cups of water (or boil the water and keep on adding salt till an egg floats on top). Allow the water to cool.
Place olives in clean jars (with good lids). Scatter some fennel seeds in between the layers and then pour the brine over them until the olives are completely submerged. Place the coiled branches of dry wild fennel stalks on top of the olives to keep them submerged.
Top up the bottles with up to one centimeter of olive oil to seal and stop air getting to the olives. Screw on the lids and store for at least 6 months in a cool, dark place.
When you are ready eat your olives take out as many as you want, drain them and taste them. If they are too salty, soak them in fresh water, till they are ready to dress.
Unlike the Greeks, this recipe does not call for vinegar to pickle or to dress olives.