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Information for Fennel

Fennel is a sole plant species of the genus Foeniculum and a part of the Apiaceae family. This perennial herb is umbelliferous in nature. Composed of a large white bulb and erect green hollow stalks, it can grow up to 8' (2.5 meters) in height. It has finely dissected leaves with fine segments which can grow to about 16" (40 cm) in length.

Fennel's oblong dry seed fruit is about 1/8" to 3/8" (4 to 10 mm) with ridges while its flowers are yellow. All the parts of this highly aromatic plant can be eaten and used both fresh and dried.

As a spice, fennel seeds are dried giving the fresh yellow to brown seed a dull grey color. It is highly aromatic with a sweet scent that is milder than both liquorice and anise though similar in smell. The flavor of fennel is also similar to anise, although lighter. This taste tends to become more delicate as the spice is cooked.

When it comes to cooking it is widely used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Fennel can be used to flavor fish, vegetables, meats, chutneys and even bread. These may be used whole, crushed and or toasted depending on the dish being prepared.

Photo Credit: vbecker
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