What Is Fennel?
What is Fennel?
What is fennel? Which parts of fennel do you eat?
Fennel is a plant from the Umbellifereac family of plants, making it related to parsley, carrots, corriander and dill. Its texture and general appearance is much like celery – although the coloring, shape and taste are all slightly different. It is crunchy and slightly sweet with a flavor and aroma much like licorice or anise.
It’s high in antioxidants, most notably anethole which has been shown to reduce imflammation and fight cancer. It can also help with anemia as it is high in iron, which is needed for hemoglobin production in the bloodstream. Fennel is also a diuretic, it increases the amount and frequency of urination, thereby helping the body remove toxic substances. It can also help with indigestion as the essential oils in fennel stimulate the secretion of digestive and gastric juices, thus reducing inflammation of the stomach and helping nutrients from food to be properly absorbed. It can also reduce flatulence, by expelling excess gas from the stomach. It aids in digestion and powdered fennel seeds are often also used as a laxative. It helps regulate hormones and thus ease menstruation in women. The vitamin C and amino acids contained within also help with the regeneration of tissues, helping to fight off macular degeneration in the eyes. .
It is a common practice in India to chew fennel seeds after a meal in order to help digestion and eliminate bad breath at the same time.
What is Fennel? Which parts of fennel do you eat?
The fennel plant is completely edible!
You can eat the white bulb (except the hard center core by the root), the green stalks, the feathery leaves and even the seeds from the flowers.
Fennel is most often associated with Italian cooking. This stems from the fact that fennel seeds are almost always found in Italian sausage.
What is Fennel? Should I try fennel?
By all means – you will be pleasantly surprised by the flavor (especially if you are a fan of black licorice).
Following are some suggestions on what to do with the different parts of the fennel plant.
Base – Remove the hard center core in the base and use the white part in salads or cook it with fish. We like to wrap packages of fresh fish in parchment paper or aluminum foil and put pieces of fennel on the top of the fish and/or under the fish to add both aroma and flavor to the dish and the room.
Slice it thinly right up until the core if eating raw. If baking, quarter the bulb including the core so that the leaves will remain intact.
Stems – Chop the stalks into soups or stews for added flavor and texture. Its texture is similar to celery, but it also adds a unique flavor to a broth.
Leaves – Use the leaves as herbs while cooking or baking. Fennel leaves also make a nice decorative touch to a dish.
Seeds – Use the seeds to add flavor to the crusts of breads or in the mix of sausages.
What is Fennel? How do I choose a fennel bulb?
Choose fennel that has a firm white bulb and straight green stalks. Choose fennel without any flowers. Flowers on a fennel stalk show that it is already old and thus will have a decreased shelf life.
What is Fennel – What is the best way to store fennel?
Fennel will keep nicely in the hydrator drawer of the refrigerator for about 4-5 days. You can store it in an airtight plastic bag. How can you tell when fennel is beginning to expire? After 4-5 days it tends to loose its flavor.
Fennel can also be frozen. But if it is, it should be blanched first. Freezing also causes fennel to loose some of its flavor and crispness.
What is Fennel? What’s a Good Way to Prepare Fennel?
Fennel can be eaten raw or cooked.
If cooking, Quarter the entire bulb, with the core. This will keep it intact and produce a soft, buttery texture after cooking.
A quick and easy preparation method is to saute the vegetable. Chop the bulb and stalks and mince a little garlic. Heat a pan over medium-high heat then add a little olive oil and the vegetables, tossing to coat the veggies in the oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and then when the fennel is beginning to turn golden add a splash of water and cook for a minute more until tender.
It can also be baked or even steamed.
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