Fennel – Its Versatility As A Spice And A Vegetable
Fennel is a member of the Apiaceae family also known as the parsley family. The herb has wispy fronds that resemble dill’s feathery appearance. The herbs have a base that resembles celery, but the taste is sweet resembling mint, a mild form of cardamom or licorice.
Fennel is indigenous to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean.
During ancient times the herb has been used by the Chinese, Egyptians, and Indians as a condiment. The herb was used as a spice and as a vegetable. The Romans also introduced the herb to the Northern Europeans.
The bulbs complete with its green fronds can be purchased from retailers of fruits and vegetables. When purchasing the seeds, these should still have a green tint, and the ground seeds should be a pale fawn brown in color. The whole seeds will retain their potency for up to three years and the ground seeds will retain their potency for up to one year. The seeds should be stored in an airtight package away from extremes of heat, humidity and light.
The herb has many uses such as in soups, salads, white sauces and with seafood. The seeds are popular additions to Italian sausage, pastas, and tomato dishes, as well as pickles, pickled vegetables and rye bread. The seeds are also a key component in curries and in Chinese five spice powder.
For additional information about fennel click on the link to Wikipedia.org
For some great sections on herbs and spices some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
• Field Guide to Herbs & Spices by Aliza Green
• The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices – Seasonings For The Global Kitchen by Tony Hill
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