Fennel is a useful and delicious herb to have in your garden. Native to the Southern Mediterranean, fennel is completely edible from the leaves to the seeds. It looks quite similar to an onion but has a lighter and refreshing flavor and many say it even tastes like licorice! And just like onion most people eat it raw, sautéed, roasted, or added to soups and sauces.
There are a few varieties of fennel but Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. azoricum) is the type you want to grow if you want to use the stems as a vegetable and use the leaves and seeds as well.
Fennel can be used to treat mild gastrointestinal disorders, abdominal fullness, intestinal wind, cough and bronchitis, and hernias.
Fresh fennel bulb is a good source of vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin critical for immune health, tissue repair, and collagen synthesis – Both the bulb and seeds contain the mineral manganese, which is important for enzyme activation, metabolism, cellular protection, bone development, blood sugar regulation, and wound healing.
How to Grow Fennel
Fennel should be grown where the sun can shine upon it and should not be planted where there is dill or coriander because the plant may cross-pollinate easily and seed production will be reduced. Fennel is self-sowing so if you plant it once, you’ll see fennel every spring!
How to Eat Fennel
Closely shave the bulb and marinate it in lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Eat on its own or add to a salad!
Sauté it: Heat a medium saute pan over medium-high and then add oil, garlic if you’d like, and of course the fennel (thinly sliced). Season with salt and pepper and as the fennel starts to caramelize, add a splash of water to steam for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Use as side dish in any meal.
Roasted Wedges: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and cut the bulb of your fennel into wedges as thin as you’d like. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper for 25-35 minutes until the wedges are tender and caramelized around the edges. Enjoy as a snack!
How To Make Fennel Tea (Especially Good For Digestion)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly crushed fennel seeds
- 1 cup boiling water
Directions: In a teapot, steep fennel seeds in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, depending on desired strength. Strain and serve.