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Fennel


Fennel

Storage

Fennel should be eaten within a few days, though you can store it in a plastic bag in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

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Origins and Culture

Fennel has a long and storied history. Native to the Mediterranean, fennel is most popular in Italy, though eaten in many traditional Mediterranean dishes, both sweet and savory. In mediaeval times, fennel was employed, together with St. John's Wort and other herbs, as a preventative of witchcraft and other evil influences, being hung over doors on Midsummer's Eve to warn off evil spirits. It was likewise eaten as a condiment to the salt fish.

The ancient Mohenjo-Daro believed fennel transmitted knowledge from the gods. Whether or not it transmits knowledge is hard to say, but it certainly transmits flavour, particularly when grown in rich organic soil.

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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties

A cup of fennel has only 27 calories. Fennel is a good source of potassium and vitamin A, as well as a fair source of vitamin C. It contains 1g of protein, 6g of carbohydrates and a trace of fibre.

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Basic Cooking Instructions

Fresh fennel has a fragrant aroma, smelling subtly of licorice or anise. Fennel adds wonderful flavour to fish, poultry, pork, lamb, salads and soups. It is particularly good when braised or baked. In Italy and France, the tender leaves are often used for garnishes and to add flavour to salads. They are also added, finely chopped, to sauces served with puddings. Roman bakers are said to put the herb under their loaves in the oven to make the bread taste better.

The three different parts of fennel - the base, stalks and leaves - can all be used in cooking. Cut the stalks away from the bulb at the place where they meet. If you are not going to be using the intact bulb in a recipe, then first cut it in half, remove the base, and then rinse it with water before proceeding to cut it further. Fennel can be cut in a variety of sizes and shapes, depending upon the recipe and your personal preference. The best way to slice it is to do so vertically through the bulb. If your recipe requires chunked, diced or jullienned fennel, it is best to first remove the harder core that resides in the center before cutting it. The stalks of the fennel can be used for soups, stocks and stews, while the leaves can be used as an herb seasoning.

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