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Fennel - Member Of The Parsley Family

Fennel is one of the oldest herbs recorded. This herb dates back to before the Christian Era. Herbee and I am fascinated with this specie as in previous centuries the plant, like other herbs, were mentioned in many of William Shakespeare's plays. It was also used in a garland form to decorate Roman warriors as hero's after a fierce battle.

The native plant originated in the Mediterranean. The specie was taken to Europe and used in gardens in their monasteries. This herb began to branch out to other countries such as India, Egypt, Persia, Japan, Switzerland, and finally to Central Europe. Today it is grown in many other countries including the United States.

Fennel is a member of the Parsley family. It is a perennial, but can be considered an annual. The herb grows wild in certain regions. There are three varieties of this herb used in the everyday gardens: Common, Sweet, and Florence (Finocchio). Common and wild varieties can grow anywhere from four to six feet tall. The dwarf variety, which is the Florence, matures to around two feet and has a bulbous base.

One of the special features of Fennel is the feathery appearance of its leaves. The leaves are bright green and tiny yellow flowers will appear in the second year though out the late summer and early fall. The clusters of flowers can reach six inches wide.

The plant does well from seed in a light weight and well drained soil. It loves full sun. In the milder climates, the seeds are sown in the early spring. It is a good idea to plant the seeds at the north end of your garden. This is done to prevent shading of smaller plants.

Dried Fennel Seeds

Fennel Seeds

Maturity Stages Of Fennel

The maturity of this plant is around 80 days. The seeds should be put in the ground about two inches in depth. It is a good idea to thin out the plants to at least eight to ten inches apart. Once the plants are established, it becomes very drought tolerant.

The leaves can be harvested when the plant reaches anywhere from six inches to a foot tall. Pick only the top two or three inches off the plant as this will ensure rapid growth for future harvesting. The leaves will last up to one week in the refrigerator, as long as their stalks are in water. You can even cover the tops to keep in the aroma.

The seeds should be harvested in late summer.If you leave the flower heads on too long, the seeds will scatter and your garden, as well as other areas of your property, could be invaded with this herb.

Once the seeds are harvested, put them on a screen to dry. The seeds also can be frozen or made into powder form. We have taken the seeds and kept them in a dark cool area for storage, and used them for two to three years.

Fennel is a big part of the Italian Cuisine. The seeds, leaves, stalks and even the bulbs are used in a variety of Italian dishes.

One favorite is pasta. One of our favorite options is take the stalks and rub them with garlic and oil.

The stalks also can be put on the grill on top of your favorite fresh fish, as well as a great addition to a antipasto salad.

The leaves are great in soups, stews, and a variety of marinades. The seeds are wonderful in breads, cakes, salad dressings.

Herbee and I love adding a few seeds to some sauerkraut. This adds such a nice flavor when using sauerkraut with meats such as Kielbasa or Italian sausage. You can germinate from seeds and use essential oils for your own health. We have carefully selected them just for you. Great gift idea as well.

The root of the dwarf Finocchio can be boiled or eaten raw as a vegetable. A couple of roots along with fresh lemon and some Artichokes makes a great appetizer or a side vegetable. In milder climates, the roots can stay out all winter with a good mulch base. In colder climates, dig up the roots and store in a cool place.

Herbee's Hot Buzzing Products For You

The Cook's Garden Herb Cutting Set
The Cook's Garden Chef's Herb Plant Collection

This herb also has some medicinal value and has been used for centuries. Always check with a professional before taking an herbal or plant product. The medicinal value of this herb in tea may help in hyperactivity of some children. The herbal tea is also known to potentially help in Colic. The tea has a strong flavor but is nice with a slice or two of a specialty bread or your favorite cookie.

One of the delightful aspects of herbs and spices is the variety of dishes you can prepare. A little bit of different plants, either caramelized or mixed in, adds so much flavor for you to enjoy.

Other Articles You Might Be Interested In.

Celery --- Drying Herbs

Herb Teas --- Add Fennel To Your Herb Garden Plan

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