The other day a lady at the Checkers pay point saw fennel bulbs in my trolley and asked: “WHAT do you do with THAT?” I met fennel 19 years ago in the form of seeds. Our new, (first born) baby was fussing and cramping, and the midwife advised me to drink 3 cups of Fennel tea a day, until she was weaned. I fell in love with fennel!
Fennel is a plant of which all the parts are edible and medicinal. It has a fresh and subtle flavour, reminding of liquorice. It is often confused with dill, because the leaf fronds look similar. Dill is a shorter plant, with no noticeable bulb in the ground. Its flavour is even more subtle than fennel. Normally only the fine, top fronds and seeds are used. Fennel has round, swollen bulbs and the plant grows taller.
Medicinally its contribution is impressive. Tea made with the seeds, (1 Tbs seeds brewed in 1L water for 10 min), helps for heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite, colic in infants, and relaxing of the colon. Fennel tea reduces inflammation, improve painful periods, and increases milk flow.
Essential oil of fennel helps to prevent sunburn. Mix a few drops into a carrier oil and apply topically.
Fennel contains plant compounds that acts like estrogen, therefor it relieves PMS symptoms. It also strengthens bones due to its high vitamin and mineral count. It decreases blood pressure naturally and is good for heart health due to a high vit. B6 content. For the same reasons it also improves eyesight.
Just eating fennel regularly will benefit you greatly. The bulb is firm and crunchy. Slice it thinly and add to salads. Stir fry it in butter and just add salt. Delicious with a bit of Quercus Ginger Spiced honey and cream! The fine leaf fronds can be added to absolutely anything. Sandwiches, salads, meat dishes, eggs, etc. The stalks can be chopped up into stews, soups or casserole dishes. In Indian cuisine, fennel seeds are sugar coated in bright colours, and served after dinner in a tiny, ornate dish. It cleans the palette and freshens the breath. Fennel can also be baked in batter for dessert.
Fennel is a popular flavour in alcoholic beverages. One such drink is called absinthe, and it is a spirit alcohol made of fennel.
In the home fennel is also beneficial. Fennel tea can be diluted with water, 1:1, and sprayed from a spray bottle to get rid of dust mites, naturally.
I hope you feel inspired in the vegetable isle, fennel into the trolley!