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Growing Herbs – Fennel
The Greek word for fennel is “marathon”, derived from the Greek victory over the Persians in 470 BC at Marathon, a battle fought in a fennel field. Fennel is mentioned as early as 3500 years ago in the Ebers Papyrus, an ancient Egyptian medical record for the treatment of flatulence.
Fennel is a native of the Mediterranean, where it was prized by the ancient Romans for its sweet leaves and liquorice aroma and is one of the oldest cultivated plants.
Fennel is a hardy, perennial, (meaning it grows all year round) umbelliferous herb, with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It grows wild in many tropical regions of Europe, but is often considered indigenous to the Mediterranean coast, where it spreads eastward to India. Over time, the use of fennel spread to the east and north, so fennel is now part of Northern European cooking and East Asian cooking.
Fennel is not the most powerful of umbelliferae, but with its sweet taste essential oil, it is certainly very pleasant and loved by many children and adults.
The plant is made up of three parts – the bulb, stalks and leaves, all of which are edible.
Fennel grows wild in well-drained loam to a height of six to seven feet in full sun and is compatible with parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. Fennel is produced by a white or pale green bulb from which attractive stalks are formed.
Common Garden Fennel is distinguished from its wild relative by having long, long, tubular and large stems and undivided leaves, but the main difference is that the leaf stalks form a curved tail around the stem, often even up to the base of the leaf above.
Changing fennel can be a difficult decision. Therefore, it is important that the seeds of the plant are planted in the place where you want the plants to grow so that they do not become poor and fail. Plant outdoors in the fall for seeds the following summer. Fennel grows best from late fall through winter to early spring.
Fennel plants may also need frequent watering during dry spells during the summer. Have a heavy mulch to reduce soil erosion and weed competition. Fennel is known to melt if the temperature suddenly increases.
Aphids and other pests such as white fly can cause serious damage to fennel plants and the plants are susceptible to such pests. It can also be affected by root rot especially if the soil is too wet or waterlogged. Due to the weakness of frost, fennel is often planted as an annual garden in the short season before winter.
Fennel is allelopathic to many garden plants, inhibiting growth or killing many plants.
Raw fennel is bright and shiny like celery and smells like beer. It has a refreshing, clean flavor and makes a great addition to salads. Known since ancient times for its flavor and medicinal properties, fennel is an important food in the Mediterranean
Fennel is well known as a culinary herb; all parts of the plant are edible and are eaten quickly after picking.
Fennel can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, boiled, steamed, fried or lightly steamed until soft.
The fennel bulb should be washed, trimmed and can be chopped as required in the recipe you are using. Fennel is widely used in recipes from Iran, Arabia and the Levant; it is also well established in Central Europe, especially to eat rye breads, where the combination of sweet fennel and earthy bread is very interesting. In addition, fennel is often used in roasted vegetables and herbed vinegar.
It is softer than celery and will dry out quickly. The sweet liquorice flavor of fennel is best served when cooked with onions. Fish dishes are more flavorful with the use of fennel; The use of fennel is especially suitable for oily fish and many smelly fish, such as mackerel and other oily fish.
It is also used as a spice and as a cooking spice in meat, fish and seafood dishes, pickles and bread which gives it a special flavor. It is easy to prepare; they are delicious raw or cooked, and their unique flavor goes well with everything.
Home cooking oils can also be enriched using fennel by adding fresh fennel leaves to some olive oil or any other home cooking oil.
The essential oil and oleoresin of fennel are used as condiments, soaps, creams, perfumes, liqueurs and other medicines.
Fennel is known to have many health benefits which I have listed below:
• A remedy for stomach complaints such as flatulence, constipation, colic, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, dyspepsia and hiccups.
It is thought that it has diuretic (increasing urine), choleretic (increasing bile), pain relief, fever reduction and anti-microbial action.
· It is a herbal and medicinal cleanser and can be used as a facial steam to open pores and rejuvenate facial skin.
• Fennel is also good for digestion, heartburn, indigestion, and stomach aches.
· Used externally to treat conjunctivitis and skin problems.
• It is used to treat amenorrhea, angina, asthma, heartburn, high blood pressure and to stimulate sexual desire.
· Fennel is an appetite suppressant and is used to repair the kidneys, spleen, liver and lungs and is said to restore damaged liver cells.
· Fennel is one of the best flea repellants and the anise flavor may be acceptable for weak dogs and cats.
· One of the oldest known herbs traditionally applied to painful joints to relieve pain.
· They contain antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, niacin (vitamin B3), potassium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, folate (which are especially important for women planning to become pregnant) and are very low in calories, cholesterol and fat.
· Studies have shown that fennel is effective in treating a newborn baby.
• Fennel seeds and oil are used as a source of estrogen to regulate menstruation, and relieve menstrual discomfort.
To make the tea put a teaspoon of the seeds in a teapot and let it ‘steep’ for five minutes, strain and pour into a cup. Don’t add any milk unless you want to drink something really sweet. Or, add half a teaspoon of crushed seeds to one cup of hot water and let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
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