Vegetable Profile: Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare var. dulse)
Fennel, a member of the carrot or Apiacae family, has many edible parts: the bulb, stalk, lacey leaves, and seeds are all used. It's native to the Mediterranean, and serves as a beautiful, flavorful staple on our farm in the cooler months. It has a sweet and spicy flavor with some bitter undertones. Some compare it's flavor to licorice, but I don't feel that does it justice - each part of the plant has a slightly different flavor. You'll have to try it yourself to see what it's truly all about.
Fennel is a warming plant that tonifies essential organs like the kidneys, bladder, liver, spleen, and stomach. The whole plant carries these actions but the most potent use for medicine comes from the seeds. The seeds can also help with indigestion, gas, hypertension, and mucus build up. It has been noted as a supportive food for breastfeeding. It also contains the antioxident quercetin, which has anticarcinogenic properties.
Fennel leaves are delicate and wilt when left out. Keep those in a watertight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Fennel bulbs and stalks are a bit more sturdy - they will last in the crisper drawer for 4-5 days.
Seeds can be dried and stored in your spice rack!
Popular uses for fennel include pickles, sausage, vinegar, and even apple pie! You can also use it in place of celery, it can be served in salads, braised, sauteed, baked, broiled, or grilled!
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood
Asparagus to Zucchini by Fairshare Coalition
Produce: A fruit and vegetable lover's guide by Bruce Beck
Our own experience!