Organic Fennel Seed
Organic Fennel Seed, Foeniculum vulgare, are a member of the parsley family (Apiaceae family) and is closely related to anise, asafoetida, caraway, chervil, coriander, culantro, dill, lovage and parsley. Fennel’s seeds are considered a spice, while the edible roots, stalks and leaves of the plant are considered an herb. The bulb shaped vegetable called fennel, Florence fennel or Italian fennel, while related to the herb fennel and similar in flavor, is not the same plant.
Fennel is native to the Mediterranean, and there are numerous varieties of fennel, but the two primary types are sweet fennel and bitter fennel. In the US, bitter fennel is more common.
The shape of Fennel Seeds is oval and ridged, while the color varies from pale or bright green to brownish yellow. Fennel Seeds resemble their close family member caraway seed (although a bit less curved than caraway).
Fennel pollen and fennel seed both come from the same plant, and this is one of only four plants that produces both an herb and a spice with the other three being coriander (cilantro and coriander seed), dill (dill weed and dill seed) and fenugreek (fenugreek leaves and fenugreek seeds).
Fennel Seed has a volatile oil content of 1% to 6% and bitter fennel contains 50% trans-anethole and 10-20%fenchone (which is responsible for the seeds bitter, camphorous and pungent flavor).
Fennel Seeds are called shamar (Arabic), hui-hsiang (Mandarin), fenouil (French), fenchel (German), moti saunf (Hindi), uikyo (Japanese), fun-cho (Portuguese), fenkhel (Russian) and hinojo (Spanish).
Cooking with Organic Fennel Seed
Fennel is a common spice in the Mediterranean and European regions, and French and Italian cooks often call fennel “the fish herb”. The French use them in fish soups, in some versions of their popular herb blend Herbs de Provence and in vinaigrettes. Italians add fennel seed to meatballs, pasta sauces, pepperoni, pizza, salami, Sambuca (a colorless liqueur) and sausages. Arabs add them in breads and salads, while the Spanish use fennel seeds to flavor various baked goods.
Throughout Asia, fennel seeds are used to season cabbages, fish sauces, roasted lamb, mutton and pork curries, sweet and sour dishes. In India they’re toasted in oil to release their flavor where they’re then used ground or used whole in breads, curries, lentils, spice blends, soups and vegetables. In Kashmir ground fennel is a key ingredient in egg and fish egg curries and in Sri Lanka ground fennel is added to hot curries and stews.
Fennel goes well with beets, lentils, potatoes, in sauerkraut, stews, meat and chicken dishes, sauces, herb butters, dips and dressings, salads, omelets, apple pie, cakes, pastries, puddings, and spiced fruit.
Organic Fennel Seed works well in combination with cinnamon, cumin, fenugreek and Sichuan peppercorns.
Organic Fennel Seed will quickly lose its flavor when ground so we recommend grinding them in small batches. Add fennel at the end of the cooking process for the best flavor.
When roasted the seed becomes less sweet and more spicy. Roast in a hot, dry skillet for several minutes stirring constantly.