Fennel is a versatile and delicious food that is an ideal go-to item in cooking. Its taste is unique and is similar to licorice. You can find the fresh type of fennel in the produce section of a grocery store.
The seeds, which are useful in many recipes, come in dried form. Fresh fennel looks somewhat similar to a bunch of celery.
Do you want to know more about the history, nutrition, and uses of fennel – and so much more? Would you like some tasty recipes to get you started with fennel? Let’s go into those details now.
What Is Fennel?
Usually, when people talk about fennel, they are talking about the seeds of the fennel plant.
However, the leaves of this plant can be used as a food topping, and other parts of fennel are great both raw and cooked. (See the below section, “How Do You Eat Fennel?”
The fennel plant is part of the carrot family and grows in many places across the planet. It can grow to be very tall.
There is also a type of fennel that you can buy at your local grocery store in the produce section or at the farmer’s market or other places that sell food. Keep in mind though that not all stores sell fennel. So it can be a little difficult to find.
What Is The Distinctive Flavor Of Fennel?
Fennel tastes somewhat like a licorice type of flavor. It for sure has a distinctive taste that you can detect even when it is mixed in with other ingredients in a recipe. It really stands out as an unmistakable and rather strong taste.
Each part of the fennel plant has a different flavor.
Fennel seeds taste like a strong licorice type of flavor.
As for fennel leaves, they have a less strong and more mild flavor.
I can’t tell you what fennel essential oil tastes like because I would never want to try eating it! Likewise, I don’t know of anybody who would want to eat essential oils — unless they have pica, of course!
What Does Fennel Look Like?
Fennel in its whole form looks quite similar to a bunch of celery, as far as how it has stalk-like structures. It is also about the same length as celery stalks. It is a light color and sort of beige in hue.
Fennel seeds are small, and you have maybe even seen pieces of them if you have eaten sausage that contains fennel.
What Texture Does Fennel Have?
The texture of whole fennel is similar to celery, which makes sense because fennel also looks like celery. So when it is raw, fennel has a crunchy and somewhat rough texture.
When fennel is cooked, the texture turns much softer and more muishy. It can easily blend right in with the various other ingredients in a recipe.
Fennel seeds are, as you can imagine, rather rough in texture.
Types Of Fennel
Fennel, as I mentioned a moment ago, is either in its whole form, or leaf, or seeds.
As is true for many plants, there are various varieties and forms of fennel.
Where Does Fennel Come From?
Fennel has throughout history come from places like southern Europe and areas around the Mediterranean. Over time it has also grown in places far away from there, including Australia and the United States.
Is Fennel Healthy?
Fennel is overall a healthy food to eat. Most people are not allergic to fennel or most other foods like it. But anyone who is allergic or sensitive to fennel should not eat it.
Fennel has nutrients and substances that help digestion and other functions of the body..
After eating, people in India have traditionally consumed the seeds of the fennel plant to help their bodies digest their food.
How Do You Eat Fennel?
People commonly use fennel in recipes and cook it before eating it, although it is possible to eat it in other ways such as raw.
A common way to use fennel in recipes is to include it in a sausage recipe. If you have bought or eaten sausage before, there is a strong chance that it has had fennel in it.
Is Fennel Good For You?
Fennel can be very good for you, which is also true of most or all fruits and vegetables. It contains various nutrients. Plus, it is good for your taste buds, in that it adds so much flavor and flair to recipes.
How Can You Store Fennel?
You should store fresh fennel in your refrigerator or other very cool place. It will stay fresh for many days that way, especially if it is really fresh when you buy it.
As for fennel seeds, you can store them like you would any of your spices. Place them in a cool, dry place such as a cabinet or drawer. Preferably keep them away from too much light.
Can You Freeze Fennel?
You can store fennel leaves by freezing them. They will last up to INSERT months in the freezer.
How To Tell Fennel Is Bad?
Fennel seeds will last for a long time, especially if they are really fresh when you first get them. They will likely lose a lot of their flavor when they are no longer fresh.
And the type of fennel you get in the produce section at the grocery store will keep a lot less long compared to seeds. It will start to look and smell bad and even moldy when it is going bad. It is best to discard any fennel that has gone bad.
Even if parts of fennel are not as fresh, you can trim them off of the rest of the fennel. Discard those, and use the parts of the fennel that are still fresh.
Do not try to put it into the garbage disposal, though, as the texture could stop up and even damage a garbage disposal. Instead, place it in a bag and then in a garbage can.
How Can You Pick Fennel In A Grocery Store?
Fresh fennel in the grocery store will be in the produce section. Look for fennel that is vibrant in color and not soggy or wilted.
Fennel seeds will be with the dry goods or possibly spice section in the grocery store. Pick a brand that is reputable. Check the expiration date to make sure the fennel seeds are still good. Preferably pick the latest expiration date possible.
Of course, you can select fennel based on price, although you get what you pay for. So do not skimp on price as the product might result in a recipe that does not taste as good.
How To Ripen Fennel?
Fennel seeds do not need to be ripened or changed in any way when you buy them. They should be good to use right off the shelf in the store. If anything, you need to be concerned about them becoming less fresh over time.
You also do not need to ripen fresh fennel that you get from the produce section in the grocery store. You should be able to use it “as is” right when you take it home from the grocery store.
How To Open Fennel?
Fennel seeds are in a container that you just need to open as you would open any other container or package of spices.
You would want to wash fresh fennel in cool tap water before using it. Trim off any pieces and parts that do not look or smell fresh, and discard those. Gently remove however many pieces of fennel that you want to use in your recipe.
Can You Grow Fennel?
You might want to consider growing your own fennel. When you ask people who grow gardens what items they are growing, not many people will tell you they are growing fennel. But that does not mean you shouldn’t try.
Just keep in mind what your growing seasons are in your area, and whether fennel will grow easily or not in your area.
But there is nothing like fresh produce that you have grown in your own garden.
Fennel Versus Onion
Fennel stands alone as its own unique type of food. However, it can seem similar to certain other foods, and some people may compare it to those foods.
One of those foods is onion – the yellow or white varieties. It does look similar as far as having a layered type of look. It is also similar to onion in that it is crunchy and firm, as well as watery and juicy.
Both onions and fennel have strong and distinctive flavor. They add a big boost to any recipe or dish.
But still, the shape, size, and taste of fennel is quite different from onion. It is more long rather than round. Its taste is more like licorice and more spicy than onion. Onion does not taste like licorice as fennel does.
While we are comparing fennel to other foods, we should also mention fennel being commonly compared to other foods, such as celery, caraway, dill, anise, bok choy, and cumin.
How Do You Cook Fennel?
You cook fennel pretty easily, whether you are using the seeds or the whole plant. Add it to recipes that call for fennel in the quantities and type that the recipe says.
When you use fennel seeds, you measure them out according to the proper amount you need for a recipe.
When you use the leaves, you wash them under running tap water, trim off any bad parts, and cut them up with a sharp knife.
When you cook the firm bulb part, you also cut it up with a sharp knife.
There are seemingly endless tasty recipes that call for fennel. For example, you can combine pieces of the stalks, or bulbs, into a salad.
It combines really well with protein such as beef or pork. And adding in some cheese and/or other vegetables makes is even better.
You can make a slaw, similar to the Cole slaw concept, that includes crunchy fresh cut-up fennel parts of the stalks with raw onions, celery, garlic, and carrots.
Or you could make tasty chicken or turkey sausage that includes fennel seeds as the ingredient that really makes the recipe pop.
Fennel seeds even make a good addition to based goods such as hearty breads that pair well with soup.
Fennel is not just great as part of main dishes and side dishes. You can add the seeds or fresh fennel to a variety of dressings, including salad dressing.
Fennel is truly a great food for sparking creativity and adding amazing taste and nutrition to so many food dishes. Feel free to try out your own ideas.
As if that were not amazing enough that you can use fennel in so many different recipes and dishes, you can also steep or prepare fennel seeds, flowers, and leaves to make tea.
The tea you make can help with improving digestion and a variety of gastrointestinal problems. For example, it can help with colic in babies, as well as heartburn, loss of appetite, and bloating in adults.
All in all, it is surprising that more people do not consider fennel as a go-to ingredient to keep on hand at all times and use pretty frequently. That goes for all types of fennel, that is, fresh and seeds.
Nutritional Value Of Fennel
Fennel is just about the perfect food for many reasons. Let me explain why. It is low in calories so is great for anyone trying to lose weight or maintain a current weight.
At the same time, fennel is high in many nutrients. For example, it is rich in calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It is also high in fatty acids. All of those nutrients I just mentioned benefit your health.
Fennel has some incredible healing benefits, too. It can be helpful in fighting infections of various types.
For example, fennel might be helpful for inflammation and for addressing viruses and fungal infections. It also has powerful antioxidant properties.
Fennel can even be used to help a nursing mother’s body produce more milk for her baby.
So fennel truly is a type of medicinal food. Remember that Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said to let food be your medicine and medicine be your food.
Quick Table: Fennel Recipes
|Fennel And Dill Salad||190||10 Minutes|
|Sweet Italian Sausage||125||1 Hour|
|Salmon With Fennel||162||1 Hour|
Making a fresh salad can be a bit time-consuming, but this salad made with fresh dill is super quick and easy. And really tasty too!
You simply chop up some fresh fennel, and add some fresh dill, along with mayonnaise plus parmesan cheese. Mix it all together and you have a quick side dish for dinner.
One thing that’s amazing is how this combination of ingredients changes the flavor of fennel somewhat so it does not taste quite as much like licorice.
Once you make this salad, you are probably going to want to keep it in your regular meal plans.
Total Preparation Time: 10 minutes
One of the most typical ways to enjoy fennel is in the form of fennel seeds combined into a delicious sausage recipe. Sweet Italian sausage is a classic example.
You basically combine ground meat, whether that be pork, chicken or turkey, with spices and vinegar.
The spices can be either fresh or dried and in numerous combinations. For example, you can include ground fennel seeds with salt and pepper. Additions include parsley, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, sage, and paprika.
You could even invent your own signature sausage recipe that includes fennel seeds. You can make this sausage to suit various diets such as gluten-free and dairy-free.
It is a great and quick dinner that makes it seem like you spent hours in the kitchen.
It is so versatile that it tastes great with potatoes, rice, quinoa, vegetables, and tossed salad.
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour
So many people enjoy salmon for its health benefits, beautiful color, and mild taste. And it is always nice to have a new recipe to try to add an extra flavor twist. Well, here is a new recipe that you are probably going to love!
Whether for a weeknight or dinner party, poached salmon with fennel and other ingredients is sure to please.
You simply combine salmon, preferably wild-caught, with sea salt and pepper along with garlic, olive oil, broth, onion, thyme, and celery.
And the finishing touch is, of course, fennel seeds. You can also squeeze fresh lemon juice on the fish, and add a garnish of a lemon slice.
Total Preparation Time: 1 hour
Now you are probably eager to get some fennel as soon as possible. Good for you.
I would imagine you are really going to enjoy this tasty and healthy food, and it might even become one of your new favorites to keep in your refrigerator and pantry.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do You Cook With Fresh Fennel?
Fresh fennel can be used in a variety of dishes. For example, fennel can be added to a salad, used as a garnish for soups, or added to a main dish as a side. Fresh fennel can be used in salads and main dishes.
Is Fennel A Laxative?
No, fennel is not a laxative. Fennel is a herb that has been used for centuries to aid digestion. Fennel is typically used to aid the digestion of foods like cabbage, fish, and chicken.
What Seasoning Goes With Fennel?
Fennel has a unique, subtle flavor that many people may not be familiar with. It is often paired with licorice, anise, and black pepper. The unique taste can be complemented with a salt-free seasoning that has a mild, nutty flavor.
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