Sean Picking Young Fennel Stems Among Last Year's Seed Stalk

Botanical Name: Foeniculum vulgare

Family Name: Umbelliferae

Common Names: Sweet Fennel

Fennel is a perennial. It will grow four feet tall or more.  The whole plant gives off an anise or licorice scent and taste

Leaf: The feathery leaves look like delicate green lace.

Stem: Erect stem, thickened by rings at the nodes

Flower: The yellow flowers are borne in large terminal umbels

Seeds: The seeds are narrow ovoid fruits with blunt ends and with eight longitudinal ribs almost 1⁄2 long and slightly curved like caraway

Leaf: The leaves can be harvested from early Spring through the Fall.

Stem:  The stems are tastiest in the Spring but can be unsheathed of the outer tougher portion till Fall to consume the celery like insides

Flower: Flowers bloom in July and August

Seeds: Harvest seeds when they are fully ripe and then dried.

Fennel likes to grow in waste lands, poor chalky and sandy soils suit it fine.  Fennel can become quite invasive so be sure to plant it in a corner where you don’t mind it takes over.

Leaves: As an herb, fennel leaves are used in French and Italian cookery, most commonly in sauces for fish, stuffings, and in mayonnaises. Its delicate anise flavor is valued for sausages, salads, breads and pastas. Fennel has a special affinity with fish and the dried stalks can be used as a bed for grilled fish or the seeds scattered sparingly on to bass, red mullet or sardines while barbecuing. It also adds a subtle flavor to creamed fish soup. Fennel is a popular flavoring with pork in Italy. Stir the chopped leaves into hot tomato soup to heighten its flavor; add them to meat loaves and polenta. Sprinkle them over salads or into marinades. Chopped fresh fennel does wonders for white bean salad.    Fresh fennel leaves can be frozen for up to two months, packed in small bunches in plastic bags. Use them as you would fresh.

Stems: Treat the hollow stalks as you would celery in cooking. Eat them raw or simmer the stalks in water or chicken stock as a vegetable to be served with butter. They can also be sautéed in garlic and olive oil. Add them to soups or stews. Let children use a fresh fennel stalk as a straw for sipping orange juice. Chop the stalks in a food processor and toss in the pot for last 15 minutes of cooking. The softened stalks will thicken the consistency without adding fat.

Seeds: The seed is not so widely used, but like many other seeds, it flavors breads and cakes, puddings, pastries and confectionery. It is an ingredient of Chinese Five Spice, sweet
pickling spice and of certain curry powders, especially those of Sri Lanka. In India it is an ingredient of mukhwas, a ‘chew’ to aid digestion and sweeten the breath. Spicy Italian sausages, both sweet and sharp, contain the seed. It can be used in meat loaves, in pickled shrimps and with mushrooms. It Italy it is used to impart a special flavor to dried figs. Several alcoholic drinks are flavored with fennel such as gin, aquavit and formerly, absinthe. A fennel tea – one teaspoon seeds to half pint of water infused—is a warming and refreshing drink.

Roots: The root can be thinly sliced and simmered in chicken stock until tender for a simple fennel soup, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Flowers: The clusters of lovely yellow flowers in late Summer and early Fall are beautiful as a garnish.

Fennel Pollen: Wild Fennel Pollen comes from Fennel flowers picked at full bloom.  The plants are then dried and the pollen sifted out, yielding an exquisite spice that has the aroma of fennel, but is sweeter and far more intense in flavor than the other parts of the plant.

Stir frying sliced Fennel and Yellowdock leaves

One teaspoon of fennel seed has 7 calories.  It provides 0.3g protein, 0.3 g fat, 1 g carbs, 24 mg calcium, 0.4 mg iron and 3 IU vitamin A

Fennel offers many healing gifts as a:  carminative (alleviates flatuence), diuretic (increases the flow of urine), stimulant, antispasmodic (relieves muscles spasms), anti-inflammatory (reduces inflammation), aromatic (has a smell or aroma), expectorant (promotes secretion from the respiratory tract by coughing), aperitif (stimulates appetite), antiseptic (destroys or inhibits the multiplication and growth of micro-organisms), emmenagogue (helps menstral discharge), laxative (aids bowel evacuation), splenic (aids health of the spleen), vermifuge (expels worms), anti-microbial (in order for an herb to be considered anti-microbial it has to have all the anti properties: anti fungal, anti septic, anti viral, anti bacterial…), tonic (strengthens well being), calmative (pacifying and calming), stomachic (increases appetite), digestive (helps with the digestion process), vaso-motorial (even after searching the web I have no idea what this means), cardiac (pertaining to the heart), and galactagogue (increases the flow of milk)

All of the above is translated better with this paragraph I found on the web:.  Fennel ROCKS!

Fennels effects have a warming, respiring and loosening nature. It warms and stimulates the digestive organs, especially when they become sluggish. This relieves gas and headaches that are related to improper digestion. An excellent stomach and intestinal remedy for treating flatulence and colic conditions, while also stimulating healthy appetite and digestion. Fennel frees the respiratory system, rendering a calming antispasmodic effect on coughs and bronchitis. It gives a delicious flavor and aromatic lift to herbal blends and cough syrups. Helpful for cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy. To help with indigestion and gas, pour boiling water over crushed fennel seeds (1 tsp seed to a pt of water). The seeds are simmered in syrups for coughs, shortness of breath, and wheezing. The leaves and seeds when boiled with barley increase breast milk. The seeds and root help clean the liver, spleen, gallbladder, and blood. The tea and broth of this herb are said to help in weight loss programs. Fennel oil mixed with honey can be taken for coughs, and the tea is used as a gargle. The oil is eaten with honey to allay gas and it is applied externally to rheumatic swellings. The seeds are boiled to make an eye wash for inflamed and swollen eyes. Use an infusion of the seeds as a gargle for gum disorders, loose teeth, laryngitis or sore throats.


1. Chewing the seeds makes a good breath freshener

2. The leaves are awesome for deep cleansing the pores with a face pack or facial steam treatment.

3. Infuse the leaves to make an herbal hair rinse.

4. Make eye lotion: place 1 oz of seed in a pan, cover with a pint of water and simmer for 20 minutes over low.  train and cool; pour into bottles, In an eye bath or appplied to the eyes with cotton balls, this win fusion will take away inflammation and give the eyse sparkle.

5. Russian scientists recently discvoered that one serving of Fennel a day can soothe even chronic cases of belly cramps, bloat and indigestion by 65% in just one week.

6. Fennel is said to be helpful to cancer patients after radiation and chemotherapy

7. The tea and broth of this plant are said to help in weight loss

8. Use a strong Fennel tea as a gargle for gum disorders, loose teeth, laryngitis or sore throats.

9. Fennel increases the libido of both male and female rats.

10. Fennel has compounds that act like female hormone estrogen and has been usd for centuries to promote milk fow in nursing women.

11. Powdered Fennel seeds repels fleas from pets’ sleeping quarters.

Recipes courtesy Herbalpedia

Pasta Salad with Pepperoni and Fresh Fennel

The dressing: 2 tsp orange zest, 2 tsp Dijon mustard 1⁄4 tsp crushed red chile pepper 1⁄4 tsp fennel seeds 1⁄4 tsp brown sugar 4 Tbsp sherry vinegar 4 Tbsp olive oil
Combine the zest, mustard, red pepper, fennel seeds, and sugar; add the vinegar and mix well. Slowly whisk in the oil, and set aside

The Salad: 1 lb fresh fusilli pasta 1 tsp olive oil salt 1/ 4 cup olive oil 1 medium-size fennel bulb with tender stalks, chopped with foliage reserved 1 large onion, chopped 1/ 2 tsp fennel seeds 1/ 2 tsp crushed dried red chile pepper 2 medium-size red bell peppers, chopped 4 cloves garlic, minced 4 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 Tbsp chopped fresh fennel leaves salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 6 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan 2 oz thinly sliced pepperoni

Bring salted water to tolling boil with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add pasta; return to boil and cook 2 minutes. Drain in colander and set aside. Heat 1⁄4 cup olive oil, and sate the fennel bulb, onion, fennel seeds, and crushed red chile until onion pieces are slightly softened (about 5 minutes). Add the bell peppers and garlic; sauté briefly, just until peppers are slight soft. our sautéed vegetables over the pasta and mix well with the fresh herbs, adding salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss the pasta with the dressing. Add the freshly grated Parmesan and pepperoni, toss well. If made in advance, refrigerate and serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6. (The Herb Garden Cookbook)

Beet Salad
3⁄4 lb beet

Dressing: 3 Tbsp wine vinegar 1/3 cup olive oil 2 tsp sugar 1⁄2 tsp fennel seeds pinch of ground ginger 4 scallions, chopped salt

Cook the unpeeled beets in a pan of boiling salted water until tender. Drain, skin and cut in julienne strips. For the dressing, whisk together all the other ingredients. Pour the dressing over the beets and leave to stand for 1 hour for the flavors to blend before serving. (Cooking With Spices)

Fennel Potato Soup

Boil potatoes in bone broth stock, mash when cooked by using a blender, or potato masher

add 1/2 cup finely chopped Fennel stalk and leaves

2 scallions or wild onions thinly sliced

1 T chopped fresh parsley

Cook till heated through, garnish with Fennel flowers, or leaves

Fennel Ice Cream
1 2/3 cups heavy cream, 2 teaspoons Fennel seeds crushed, 1 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup sugar, divided 4 large egg yolks

Equipment: an ice cream maker

Bring cream and Fennel seeds just to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, then cover and let steep about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring milk, 1/2 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a simmer in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring.
Whisk together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl, then add milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking. Return mixture to medium saucepan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, then quick-chill by setting bowl in an ice bath and stirring occasionally until cool, about 15 minutes.

Strain Fennel cream through fine-mesh sieve into custard, pressing on solids. Continue to chill in ice bath until custard is very cold, then freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 1 hour.

Citrus Salad
2 oranges, 1 bag sweet baby lettuce, 1 small red onion peeled and sliced into rounds, 1 cup thinly sliced fennel

Dressing: 1⁄4 cup prepared olive-oil vinaigrette 2 Tbsp orange juice 1 Tbsp orange zest

Peel and cut 1 orange into rounds; zest and juice remaining orange. Arrange lettuce on serving platter. Top with orange rounds, the red onion and fennel. Whisk dressing ingredients together until blended and drizzle over salad.

Fennel-Apple Cheese Salad
2 medium Fennel bulbs, 3 firm apples, cored, thinly sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice, 1⁄4 lb firm cheese of choice, rind removed and cubed 1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (almonds, hazelnuts or pecans) 1⁄2 cup mayonnaise 5 Tbsp orange juice salt and black pepper to taste

Cut Fennel bulbs in half lengthwise. Trim green feathery leaves and reserve them for garnish. Thinly slice Fennel and put in serving bowl. Add apple slices, cheese cubes and nuts.

In separate small bowl combine mayonnaise, orange juice, salt and pepper. Spoon over salad and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Garnish salad with reserved Fennel leaves. (The Charlotte Herb Guild Cooks)