I hate onions.


Ok, so I don’t hate them. I don’t like them much. I certainly don’t like them enough to choose them as the primary ingredient in a canning project. So when Alliums (onion, garlic, etc.) were chosen as the ingredient for this month’s Can Jam, I considered just leaving them as a background ingredient in something like a salsa. But I decided that was cheating. So I went through my two favourite canning books and found a recipe that uses another ingredient that is interesting, but still not my favourite: fennel.


Add in some sweet red pepper:

Red Pepper

Mix it all up with some salt and let it sit for 4 hours, then rinse and drain:

Rinse and drain

Do some basic picking steps (see the recipe below) and can ‘er up with bay leaves and peppercorns:

Almost done

And voila!, something that I might eat, but likely will just give to my husband, who will love every bite:

Sweet Onion & Fennel Relish
Fennel & Onion Relish

Although it’s also possible I’ll like it. I won’t know for another two to three weeks because, like all pickles and relish, this will have to sit at least that long before it can be eaten so all the flavours can blend. When I opened last month’s dilled carrots, I was surprised that I actually liked them, despite my intense dislike for cooked carrots. Let’s cross our fingers that this will be the same! And if not, maybe I’ll have better luck with next month’s Can Jam and end up with an ingredient I love!

Sweet Onion & Fennel Relish
From The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard
Yield: 4 cups (mine made 6 cups)
Level: Beginner to Intermediate (I find hot-pack to be slightly more intimidating than cold-pack, so I’d say it’s slightly harder than last month’s carrots)

1 large sweet onion, such as Spanish or Vidalia (about 8oz/250g)
1 fennel bulb (about 10oz/275g)
1 sweet red pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 1/2 tsp pickling salt, divided
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 bay leaves (I used 6 very small leaves in 6 jars)
8 black peppercorns (I used 2 per jar for 12 total)

1. Slice onion in half lengthwise, then in very thin slices crosswise to form half circles (I used my mandolin, which is right up there with my apple corer and jar lifter for favourite canning tool ever). Cut fennel bulb in half lengthwise and remove core; thinly slice crosswise to form half circles. Place onion, fennel, and pepper in a non-reactive bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp (10mL) salt. Toss and let stand for 4 hours. Rinse twice and drain thoroughly.

2. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and 1/2 tsp (2mL) salt in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add vegetables and return just to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

3. Remove vegetables from liquid with a slotted spoon and pack into hot jars. Pour liquid over vegetables to within 1/2 inch (1cm) of rim (headspace). Add bay leaves and peppercorns.

4. Process 10 minutes for half-pint (250mL) jars and 15 minutes for pint (500mL) jars. [Don’t know how to do this step? Check out the Tigress’ great Canning 101 post for a great primer.]

Fennel & Onion Relish

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