Fennel – more than just a great tea!
When you think of fennel do you think of a soothing tea for stomach aches? You’re not wrong, but this spicy tuber can do a whole lot more, as you’ll find out.
Fresh fennel tubers are firm, white and smooth. The ones you find at the market or supermarket have normally been trimmed so that there are only a few short green herby stems and leaves on top. But, if you find fennel with the leafy part still attached, try it, because these tender shoots look and taste similar to dill.
The use of fennel as a tea, which almost everyone knows about, especially mums, normally uses the seeds. These contain essential oils, and when infused in hot water can relieve spasms and soothe the digestive tract, much like fennel’s botanical cousins, anise and cumin.
For this reason, fennel was known as a medicinal plant, as far back as the Middle Ages. The tasty tuber originates from the Mediterranean, where you can still find wild fennel. The plant grows several metres high in the warm climate and has distinctive flowers and leaves.
The tuber that has it all
The white flesh of the fennel tuber has a distinctive spicy aroma, which is particularly intense when you eat it raw. With its firm and crunchy structure, it makes great finger food. You can even use fennel sticks to replace a bag of chips for your movie night – as long as you have some delicious dips to hand too, of course!
You can spice up a salad with raw fennel too, you can use the white flesh and the leaves, just make sure to slice it all up finely with a sharp knife.
If the taste is a bit too strong for you when it’s raw then steam it, cook or bake it, instead. This is great for discovering fennel’s more subtle and delicate side. You can also enjoy it’s more delicate flavours by adding it to soups or stir fries too!
Want to know more about prepping your fennel, check out our tips, here.