Preserving Fennel

Preserving Fennel is a great way to keep the fresh, slightly spicy fronds and seeds available throughout the winter months. Fennel flavored vinegars and oils for salad dressings, honey for teas, and butters for spreads and sautes can add a distinctive flavor to many dishes. 

Foeniculum vulgare
History of Fennel

Fennel was greatly prized by the Greeks, who used the herb for as many as twenty (20) different ailments, including an appetite suppressant to help loose weight.

The Romans ate the leaves, roots and seeds, using them in salads, and baking them into breads and cakes. Roman ladies used Fennel to loose weight and Roman soldiers ate it to promote good health.

The Anglo-Saxtons chewed the seeds during periods of fasting to stave off the pangs of hunger.

Our Puritan forefathers gave the seeds to their children to chew during the long sermons in early churches to ward off hunger pangs, which was known as "Meeting Seeds".

In the Middle Ages stews were made with the herb, helping the flavor of almost everything and keeping insects out of the food, since no refrigeration was available way back then!

By the 16th century, botanists and physicians alike were writing of the benefits of Fennel as an eye wash and a remedy for poisonous snake bites and to combat the ill effects of eating less than savory mushrooms.

Culinary Uses of Fennel

Fennel has been used for centuries to flavor fatty meats such as lamb and pork and in stuffing for poultry and oily fish. The leaves are delicious chopped and sprinkled over vegetables and in salad dressings. The dried seeds are used in sauces and baked into breads and cakes.

Medicinal Uses of Fennel

A tea made from boiling water poured over 1 teaspoon of Fennel seeds allowed to seep for five minutes, then strained, makes a great digestive aid, helping to relieve heartburn and constipation. It is known to sooth the muscles of the intestine, aiding in constipation. It is thought to help with water retention, making it an aid in reducing urinary tract problems. It is used to treat cellulitis when mixed with a carrier oil such as sweet almond oil and massaged into the effected areas.

Minor uses of Fennel include mouthwash for gum infections, often being used in toothpaste and mouthwashes.

PLEASE NOTE: Very large doses can lead to nervous system disorders and convulsions. It should never be given to children under the age of six or used by people who are epileptic.

Aromatherapy Uses of Fennel

Fennel has been used for centuries to regulate menstrual cycles and reduce the symptoms of Pre-menstrual Stress Disorder and water retention. During menopause, the tea is helpful in to reduce the unpleasant symptoms caused by fluctuating hormonal levels, stimulating the adrenal glands to produce estrogen once the ovaries have stopped producing it on their own, helping to off-set the appearance of aging.

Seeping a compress in the cooled tea and applying it over your eyes will help relieve watery, swollen eyes.

Harvesting Fennel

Fennel is a hardy perennial that grows well in a sunny position in the garden in well drained, fertile soil.

Due to the close relationship, Fennel should not be grown next to coriander or dill, as they can cross-pollinate, corrupting all three spices.

Young Fennel sprigs can be harvested at any time during the growing season to use fresh. Care should be taken not to harvest too many sprigs from each plant in order to leave enough to help the plant produce flower heads.


Garden Shears

Collection basket of some sort


1. Clip the young, green leaves in the early morning after the dew has dried off of the leaves, leaving the hard woody stems to generate more growth. This will encourage branching, for a bushier, well formed plant.

2. Alternate in various locations around the crown, leaving leaves to help feed the plant. This will assure a full crop for preserving in the late Fall.