Thursday, September 29, 2016

Herb to Know - Fennel

Foeniculum vulgare/ Fennel 

6 or 7 years ago I was gifted with a massive quantity of files from Karen Hegre.  Many people will remember Karen from the great Yahoo! lists that she ran on many different aspects of herbalism.  Unfortunately, she had become quite ill with Alzheimer's disease.  She asked me to publish as much as I deemed usable, and passed away in November of 2013.  The problem is that I can only assume that these files that were gathered from her lists were contributed by many list participants.  In those days, list owners considered posts on "their" lists to be their property ~ yay for the sketchy, gray areas of the brand new world wide web!  This is from that vast collection.
Fennel is a perennial (zones 6-9) grown as an annual in most places.
Fennel gets two to 5 feet tall, and has 6 inch wide umbels of tiny yellow
flowers which appear in midsummer.  The feathery, blue-green leaves look
remarkably like those of dill.

Fennel leaves and seeds have a mild licorice or anise flavor and fragrance.
A sweet, aromatic, diuretic herb that relieves digestive problems, increases
milk flow, relaxes spasms, and reduces inflammation.

Sow seeds directly in the garden a week or two before your last spring frost
date.South of zone 5, you can also plant fennel seeds in the fall!
Plant in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade in southern areas.
Fennel requires moderately fertile, well-drained,moist soil....but....will
not tolerate overwatering.
Space plants six inches apart.
Largely pest-free, but prone to root rot in soggy soils.
Fennel can be container grown.

Leaves are picked for use at any time during the growing season;  leaf bases
are most tender in spring.  Stems for use in cooking are cut as required.
Roots are lifted in autumn and dried for use in decoctions.  Unripe seeds
are collected in summer for using fresh.  Ripe seeds are harvested before
they fall by cutting the seed heads and upturning into a paper bag for
drying;  they are used whole, ground, or distilled for oil.
Hang stems of leaves upside down to air dry.....and you can freeze leave in
ice cubes.

Culinary;  Fennel leaves are minced into salads or over fish, pork, eggs,
cheese, beans, rice and cabbage-family vegetables.  The seeds are added to
Asian dishes, sauerkraut, fish, lentils, breads, butter, and cheese spreads.
**Fennel's flavor fades quickly when heated, so add it to recipes just
before serving.
You can combine with extra-virgin olive oil or saffron or canola oil for
flavored cooking oil.

Medicinal:  A fennel infusion aids digestion and reduces colic in infants,
and is used as a mouthwash or gargle for gum disease and sore throat.

Cosmetic:  You can use fennel seeds to exfoliate dead skin and refine pores.

Economic:  Oil is used in food flavorings, toothpastes, soaps and air

Arrangements:  Use fresh fennel flowers in floral arrangements.
Fennel in the garden helps to repel pesky slugs and snails.

***  Fennel seeds contain a volatile oil that produces an allergic
reaction in some people who touch them!!!!***
The lacy leaves of fennel are a beautiful addition to the perennial border.
Clip a few stems and mix them with nasturtiums and calendula to create an
attractive and edible centerpiece for the table.

1 comment:

jerry brimsley said...

very cool article thank you. Im fascinated by different herbs and actually didn't know a whole lot about fennel. great read!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin