Fennel (also known as Finocchio Selvatico, Wild Fennel, Sweet Fennel) is an ancient plant. In Anglo-Saxon times fennel was used on fasting days because it stilled pangs of hunger. Fennel was also used by the Greeks for weight loss and treating illnesses.
Today fennel can be used in many ways. Uses include the leaves, flowers, stems and seeds.
Leaves: As the shoots appear from late spring to early autumn. Good chopped over salads and cooked veggies, soups ect.
Flowers: Summer just as they come into bloom. Good on pickles and salads.
Stems: Young stems can be harvested from summer until early autumn. The young stems are good on salads and the later mature stems for adding to BBQ coals for flavor.
Seeds: Late summer or when the brown in the winter. They can be dried and sed for sauces, fish, meat dishes and bread.
We grew some fennel in our backyard garden this summer and with it brings the fall harvest. We wanted to experiment with creating infused liqueurs so here is our first shot. It turned out great! IT’s sweet with a hint of licorice!
1. Bottle of Vodka of the Gods from Trader Joe’s
2. 10 heads of fennel (when they are yellow and flowering)
3. 1 cup sugar for one quart vodka
4. 3 gallons water
5. Cheese Cloth
-Harvest Fennel and seed. Place fennel seeds in mason jar
-Pour sugar on top of fennel seeds
-Take 3 gallons of water and heat to 160 degrees and place mason jar in the water sealed. Take off heat and place pot and mason jar in the oven (without heat)
-Let sit for 1 hour
– Strain with cheese cloth
-Chill and pour over ice
Lesser known facts about fennel:
*Fennel is used for various digestive problems, also used for upper respiratory tract infections and visual problems.
* Fennel powder can be used for a poultice for snakebites.
* Fennel oil is used as a flavoring agent in food and beverages.
* Seeds can be eaten at the end of a meal to clear the breath and soothe indigestion.
* In the garden different conditions produce very different results.