Fennel is a flowering plant that belongs to the carrot family. It has a star anise-like smell and a slightly sweet taste. Every part of the plant is edible and serves multiple purposes.
India is the leading producer of fennel which is also known as Florence fennel, finocchio, or sweet fennel.
Choose clean and firm bulbs that do not have any brown spots, bruises or splits. Look for bulbs that have crunchy and firm stalks and no flowering. Fresh fennel smells like licorice.
Small and young bulbs tend to be more tender. The bulb is supposed to look white or slightly greenish and should feel heavy.
Store it in the fridge for up to five days, but if possible, consume soon after purchasing for the freshest possible flavor.
Fresh cut fennel should be wrapped in a damp kitchen paper, placed in a perforated bag and stored in the fridge. It will last for up to three days.
People use fennel to curb tobacco cravings when they are going through withdrawals.
Fennel is added to toothpaste and mouth fresheners.
In India and Pakistan, they make a mouth freshener caled “Mukhwas” out of fennel seeds and some candies.
Fennel and star anise share a chemical compound called Anethole that makes them have the same smell and taste.
The bulb is the most edible part. It can be added raw to salads, salsas, and slaws, or braised, roasted or grilled.
The stalks can be chopped and added to soups, stews, chowders and stocks.
The leaves make a perfect garnish or addition to any recipe calling for fresh herbs.
Wash the fennel and then trim off the green tops (they can be used as a garnish). Slice off the shoots and root and peel off the tougher outer layer (if the bulb is particularly young and tender you can leave this layer on). To cook fennel whole, cut out the tough central core from the bottom, leaving a cone-shaped cavity, or slice if you prefer. Alternatively, chop into quarters and remove the core from each one (but not too much, or the quarters will fall apart).
You can make tea from fennel seeds.
Fennel goes very well with fish dishes. Think about adding it to your next recipe.
Fennel is good for eyesight and helps with various conditions related to bowel movements such as diarrhea, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, and colic. It also helps fight anemia and respiratory disorders.
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