An ancient plant used for it’s herb, vegetable and seed.
The herb fennel is part of the carrot family. Herb fennel originated in the Mediterranean, but is easy to grow in most soils and makes a good tall plant for the back of a border. The stalks can be dried and used for aromatic fuel on a barbecue, the fronds for salads, stuffings and stocks and the seeds for marinades, rubs, sprinkling onto bread or baking into biscuits.
Fennel has a mild aniseed flavour, medicinally, it is an excellent stomach and intestinal remedy, relieving flatulence, colic and stimulating digestion.
Fennel tea will increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers.
Essential oil of fennel used in a massage helps ease muscular and rheumatic joints.
Florence fennel is the vegetable form, it is an annual with a white, bulbous, edible stem. This has a crunchy texture with a juicy aniseed flavour and can be used thinly sliced in salad, roasted, barbecued, steamed or braised.
The vegetable is high in fiber, low in calories and packed with nutrients, particularly vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. It is very calming on the digestive system, reducing indigestion, flatulence and constipation, helps regulate blood pressure, menstruation, and respiratory problems.
What To Do With Fennel
Fennel grows a bit like celery, if you get it pulled straight from the ground, the roots can be carefully cleaned and braised.
Pull the outer leaves off as they can be a bit tough. The inner bulb is the best bit, tender and juicy for salads, steamed, roasted or braised as a vegetable or sliced up in casserole.
The green stalks can be used to flavour stocks and soups.
The feathery fronds can be used as a herb is salads and soups.
However if you have supermarket trimmed fennel, it’s been trimmed for you and you can use the whole thing.
Below are a few of my favourite fennel recipes. Make the most of it when it is in season!