The dried, ripe fruit of the perennial, Foeniculum vulgare, Fennel Seed is harvested from a six-foot annual plant with divided, feathery, green foliage and golden yellow flowers. Oval seeds form in clusters after the flowers wither and are harvested when they are fully ripe. The flavor is sweet and licorice-like, similar to Anise, with a menthol undertone. Fennel is available as whole and cracked seeds, as well as ground.
The sweet, licorice fragrance of Fennel brings the flavor of Italian sausage, both sweet and hot, and other cured meats, like salami and pepperoni, to life. In the south of France, Fennel is often paired with pork, and used in sauces and stuffing. The seeds power such flavorful seasoning blends as Herbes de Provence and Curry Powder. Try adding a sprinkling of crushed Fennel Seed to your next loaf of homemade cheese bread for a delightful twist.
Fennel, once grown only in the Mediterranean, is harvested primarily in India and Egypt today.
BELIEVE IT…OR NOT
Fennel will not turn you into superman, despite ancient beliefs that regular intake would increase one’s strength and eyesight. But we can hope that its symbolism as a sign of success holds true. The Greek word for Fennel is marathon, which refers to the Greek victory over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. In more recent history, Puritans living in North America called Fennel “meeting seed,” chewing it for refreshment during long meetings. Roasted and sugar-coated Fennel Seeds are still used today in India and Pakistan as an after-dinner digestive and breath freshener.
RECIPESThree Seed Green Beans and TomatoesFennel Crusted Grouper