Pickled cucumbers and fennel flowers

Makes approx a 1-litre kilner jar

When your fennel has gone to seed it's a shame not to use the flowering or seeded heads in a pickle. You can use large cucumbers or the small ridge cucumbers for this. Serve with cheese or any smoked fish or meats.

1-2 large cucumbers, halved lengthways and the seeds scooped out
300ml white wine or cider vinegar
3 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2tbsp caster sugar
6-7 heads of flowering or seeded fennel tops
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Slice the cucumbers thinly; put them in a bowl. Bring the vinegar, shallots and sugar to the boil, season, remove from the heat, leave to cool, then add the fennel flowers. Pour over the cucumbers and leave at room temperature for an hour, stirring every so often.

Transfer to a sterilised kilner jar and refrigerate or leave in a cool larder if you are going to keep them for a while; or in a covered bowl in the fridge if you are using them within a few days.

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