If you have ever been to India and eaten at a dhaba, traditional Indian restaurants, you might have seen fennel. Fennel seeds, along with sugar cubes, are served after meals in that part of the world. The crunchy seeds possess pleasant aroma and unique taste.
Fennel is a very important herb known scientifically as Foenculum vulgare. It belongs to the Apiaceae family of plants like carrots and parsleys. The plant looks hardy with soft feathery leaves and tiny yellow flowers that cluster together. The herb is native to the Mediterranean. The flavorsome herb has a similar taste to licorice and anise and is widely around the world for its culinary and medicinal purposes.
Uses of Fennel
Some uses of the Fennel are:
The leaves and seeds are used as a digestive aid and mouth freshener. Munching on fennel seeds improve breathe. This is why Indians serve fennel seeds after meals.
The entire plant along with the base, which looks like an oversized celery stalk, is often used in salads. It tastes a lot like celery when cooked with licorice.
Fennel is also sometimes used in breads and herbed butters.
It is also used to make vinegars and herbed oils.
Fennel can be used to cook several tasty dishes. Here is one that you could try at home.
Using Fennel for Cooking
- Prepare the dressing by mixing juice of one orange, half cup virgin oil, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and one teaspoon of French mustard.
- Put all of these in a container and then shake well. Add salt and pepper according to your taste.
- Keep it still for 30 minutes.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Prepare a salad by mixing 1bulb of chopped up fennel, leaves of the plant, a head of lettuce, and some watercress.
- Bring the dressing out from the refrigerator and shake it well. Top in on the salad that you prepared.
Voila! You have successfully prepared a tasty fennel salad.
Important Facts about Fennel
Fennel is a galactagogue. This means that it improves milk supply of a breastfeeding mother.
It is also a diuretic, so it promotes the production of urine.
Eating raw fennel may also improve one’s eyesight.
Fennel is also an amazing facial cleanser. This beauty product can be made at home by combining fennel and fresh thyme. The process is as easy as making a cup of tea.
How to Make a Facial Cleanser using Fennel
- Boil half cup of water.
- Pour it over 2 teaspoon of crushed fennel seeds and 2 twigs of crushed thyme.
- Add the juice of half of a lemon.
- Cover the mixture and let it settle for 15-20 minutes
- Strain it and keep only the liquid.
- Pour the liquid into a sterilized jar and seal it tight.
- Refrigerate the liquid and.
- Cleanse your face with mixture. Use a cotton ball to do so.
Tips on Planting Fennel
Fennel thrives in sunny weather and moist soil. So, if you want to grow fennel, sow the seeds in a sunny location after the soil has warmed up. The soil should be kept moist for about two week. Around this time, two seed leaves will emerge. Plant the seedling apart with about one feet distance in between. Harvest the seed when they turn light brown in color. During fall dig up the taproot and keep in a cool cellar. In the following spring, replant them after the rooms have been trimmed. It is a perennial plant and so spreads actively if the seed heads are not removed. Fennel plants tend to cross breed with dill. On the other hand, the production of seeds has been noted to decrease when the plant is kept near coriander. So it is told to keep fennel apart from these two species.
Fennel is a very helpful herb. However, it is important that you check with your doctor before using it in any form for any purpose. It may have side effects or trigger dangerous allergic reactions. The herb has been used for ages. There is evidence in history that Roman soldiers carried it with them for religious reasons as well as safety. It was considered sacred and powerful against evil by the Anglo-Saxons. Fennel is a tricky herb to grow, but its culinary, medicinal and beauty uses make it worth the effort.
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