Fennel seeds are a fascinating part of culinary history. Used by the Romans to season their bread and to make wine, as well as the dishes associated with the garden, fennel has continued to find a home in today's kitchens. Here are some of our favorites:
Fennel is an aromatic flowering plant, native to the Mediterranean, primarily on coastal areas near the Mediterranean sea-shore and in mountainous regions. As you may have guessed from its name, it is used in cooking for its feathers and yellow, feathery leaves. Indeed, it is very often used in salads, in hot dog sandwiches, in pasta sauces and as a flavoring for baked foods. Fennel seeds contain essential oils that can be used either to make oils from the seeds themselves, or to add those oils to other ingredients.
Fennel seeds start out life like small yellow flowers. They quickly turn into a deep green herb with the appearance much like a rose. But the fennel flower starts out a bit different: instead of rising up only with yellow flowers, it starts out purple. The purple color of the flower comes from the presence of a resin known as erigerin. Erigerin adds a wonderful smell to the herb, making it very aromatic and pleasing to the palate. Add this lovely herb to soups, salads, juices, vegetable dishes and a wide range of other dishes to enjoy a spicy yet sweet taste that is both elegant and warm.
Fennel seeds may be used in a variety of different recipes, but they have been used historically as a flavoring for foods and in teas. In fact, anethole, which is the scientific name for fennel seeds, is the ingredient in absinthe and many popular teas. Fennel seeds may even be used as an alternative to cinnamon in recipes, although some people do not prefer the flavor of anethole over cinnamon. In addition, there are other interesting facts about fennel seeds that you may find interesting.
Fennel tea has been used for centuries both as an herbal remedy and as a tea. In fact, the first reference to fennel was found in the Bible and was noted in both the Old and New Testament. There are many interesting accounts of how the herb was used in both these ancient texts and modern times. For example, in the New Testament book of Acts, Paul and Silas are traveling through Galatia, and they stop at a village named Henothea.
While they are there, they are greeted by two women who have come there to cure a boy of blindness. Paul and Silas are impressed with the ability of the women to use fennel seeds to cure blindness. They are so impressed that they ask them to heal the boy, which they do successfully. After the episode, the women tell Paul and Silas how the fennel tea worked and how it made such a positive difference to the young boy. This accounts for the popularity of fennel tea among Christians and its continued use today.
Fennel has a number of historical references in the literature, mostly in ancient Greece and Rome. For example, it is recorded that during the Roman period, the Emperor Domitius experienced strong winds in his home, so he gathered some aromatic herbs from all over Italy and planted them in his garden. The result was a garden full of lovely smelling plants that he named after himself. Among these herbs were anise, cinnamon, fennel, cloves, Angelica, and nutmeg.
Today, people use fennel fruits and extracts in their herbal tea recipes for a number of different ailments. Fennel seeds are known to help boost the immune system and many herbalists recommend its use in helping to recover from flu and colds. In addition, it has been shown to be very effective at fighting plaque and kidney stones, as well as easing asthma symptoms and easing inflammation of the chest, stomach, lungs, and brain. Its other uses include relieving constipation, promoting saliva production, and suppressing diarrhea. It can even suppress the appetite so you don't feel hungry and lose weight.