Fennel seeds are known as the spice of Italian herbs. These seeds can be found in various Italian dishes including spaghetti sauce, lasagna, tomato sauces, salads and vegetable dishes. The small yellow flower buds can be eaten as a spice, added to sauces or eaten raw. They add a little bit of zest to tomato sauces, make good pasta sauces and are eaten as a fruit by some people.
Fennel seed contains an alkaloid, vanillin which has a stimulating effect on the stomach and intestinal tract when ingested. Fennel seeds contain a mild stimulating effect on the stomach and intestinal tract when ingested. Fennel is usually cultivated in southern Europe where it is used in sauces for pasta, potatoes and rice. Fennel bulb, the edible part of the fennel plant, is dried and sold in the form of a spice. Fennel bulbs are also available raw in some health food stores. Fennel seeds have a spicy flavor.
Fennel seeds and anise seeds are related in taste and texture, although they are sold as separate products. Fennel Star Anise flavor is reported to be the best of all three. Fennel Star Anise flavor is said to be more pungent than the other two and has a strong aroma of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It is very bitter. Fennel Star Anise is harvested at the tops of stems after the flower buds have opened fully. When using this fennel anise seed extract, you should not chew the leaves as they tend to go stale rather quickly.
Fennel plant is often cited as having a balancing effect on humans thus it has been used extensively by herbalists to treat many urinary and circulatory problems as well as for treating nausea and indigestion. Fennel seeds and essential oil have been successfully used by holistic practitioners to alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness. The essential oil of fennel seeds has been successfully used to calm frayed nerves, to help with motion sickness, to increase memory and concentration and to reduce tension.
Fennel seeds and essential oil are very popular in the North America and particularly in the southwestern United States. Caraway is also popular in Mexico and Central America, but is grown in much of North America as well. Fennel seeds are highly aromatic and when added to teas, they produce an intense aroma that has been prized by herbalists for centuries. Fennel oil is often used in massage therapy because of its stimulating effect on the body and central nervous system. Fennel seeds contain carvacrol, which is an important ingredient in antioxidants and protects the body's cells from damage caused by free radicals.
There are many different varieties of Fennel available. In Mexican, Italian and Greek recipes fennel seeds are often added sparingly to salads and soups as the seeds do not carry a strong flavor. In other parts of the globe fennel seeds are usually roasted or grilled until the flavor becomes almost smokey and then strained to extract the oils. The seeds are then used either as an herb or added sparingly to salads, vegetables, soups and sauces. You can try adding a few tablespoons to your salad in order to add a strong flavor, or you can leave the seeds in the bulb and extract the oils yourself by boiling the fennel in water or other liquid.
Fennel seeds can also be used as a spice. Caraway is the most common spice used for Mexican and Latin American cooking, but Fennel brings out a different flavor in soups, stews and even in pasta sauces. If you have never tried to stew with fennel, you really should give it a go. You will be surprised at the rich flavor it lends to the foods you already love!
Foeniculum, or Fennel Seed, is a flower in the bulb family, Lamiaceae. It is native to southwest Asia, mainly to warm climates, including China, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The yellow flowers are closely related to the caraway plant, but foeniculum has a stronger aroma, with a smoky, licorice-like flavor. Like all caraways, it is a native of Portugal and is now grown in other countries as a spice.