Fennel: origin and uses, everything you always wanted to know
From fennel you do not throw anything away: so full of potential, with its fresh aroma it's used both in the kitchen and in medicine. Let's get a closer look at the history and the benefits of this crunchy vegetable.
Perfectly good raw on its own or paired with other ingredients. In salad or cooked in a pan or on the stove. Fennel it’s so versatile you can never go wrong. Most commonly used in the Mediterranean cuisine, because of its special properties it’s also very much present in diets or food programs.
What is fennel?
Let’s start by saying that fennel, also called Foeniculum vulgare, is a plant that belongs to the Umbelliferae lineage, relative to carrot, celery and parsley. Fennel grows in cold temperate climates. The best known variety of fennel is the so-called ‘sweet’ one, which is more cultivated than the wild variant, better known as fennel. While the one known as foeniculum piperitum is to be avoided as it has an acrid and unpleasant taste. As all parts of the fennel are edible, we like to say that nothing of this vegetable gets thrown away: from the seeds to the stem, up to the main white part, obviously.
Where does fennel come from?
Of Middle Eastern origins, fennel has undergone a great diffusion and development in the Mediterranean basin since the late Middle Ages, although it was already known and appreciated by the Egyptians. Available from October to May, this vegetable has become an evergreen in the kitchen, especially to instill a sense of freshness on the palate.
Consuming too much fennel can lead to gastrointestinal inflammation and, in hypersensitive subjects, to allergies that manifest themselves with an annoying itchy feeling located in the mouth. Fennel is also rich in vitamin B, which has been linked to preserving the correct functioning of sight; moreover it is an excellent natural calming of the ailments that precede the menstrual cycle. Green light to the consumption of fennel during breastfeeding: it has been said that it makes breast milk taste even sweeter for babies.
What are the benefits of fennel?
Rich in flavonoids and vitamin C, fennel is known for its antioxidant properties, useful for fighting free radicals. Digestive problems? A few slices of fennel might bring you to safety! Rich in fiber, his vegetable is in fact very useful for treating all (or almost all) digestive problems. From colitis to bloating, up to stomach heaviness, the only recommendation is: watch out for quantity!
The uses of fennel
In addition to being a riot of benefits, fennel is a truly versatile vegetable. Thanks to its high quantity of water and mineral salts, it is an excellent appetite-breaking snack, useful in case of detox. Thanks to their diuretic, digestive and purifying properties, the seeds are mainly used in the preparation of herbal teas or, in some cultures, even chewed raw after meals.
Try it raw or in a salad. There is a recipe, loved in Sicily, where it is eaten with orange wedges and seasoned with oil, salt and a sprinkling of pepper. In a gratin or in a risotto, fennel lends itself to practically all uses in the kitchen. You just have to experiment!If, on the other hand, you are aficionados of purifying herbal tea at the end of a meal, know that we at Wilden.herbals have chosen fennel as the star of our Remedium n. 3 – Digestive. Together with ginger, lemon, licorice and mint, this fennel tea is a real cure-all after large meals.
- In Indian cuisine, fennel is used in the preparation of masala chai, a tea prepared with water, milk and spices, including fennel seeds.
- Used in pastry cooking and as an additive in oral hygiene products, fennel is famous in France for the preparation of pastis, an aperitif for sea wolves.
- Do you know there is an italian way of saying related to fennel that means ‘get fooled’? It can be traced to its ability to make everything sweeter, fennel was offered by the unethical hosts who served their customers with fennel before offering them poor wine, so that they would not perceive its bad taste.
photo credits to PlayTheTunes