Fennel Herb - How to Cook and Grow

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One of the oldest known culinary herbs fennel makes for a graceful addition to the herb garden. Fennel, like dill is a must have herb for anyone interested in fish cookery and every part of the plant can be eaten. Known for its ability to reduce toxins in the body it was also believed to help combat obesity in Roman times. Also used as an antispasmodic and a treatment for menstrual problems the seeds are also used as an infusion to relieve coughs and colds. Indigenous to the Mediterranean fennel is widely used in the regions cookery and by the Italians in particular.

Fennel Herb

How to Grow

There are three main types of fennel herb; bronze, green and flower. The bronze variety is particularly beautiful and, like the green can grow up to two metres in height. I sow fennel in early spring so that I can harvest the seeds as well as the leaves. Fennel is a hardy perennial that likes full sun and is not too bothered about soil type or quality. Do not make the mistake that I made by planting it close to dill as the two will cross- pollinate. If left to seed you will find it coming up all over the garden, cut it back regularly to encourage new and softer growth.

How to Cook

Great in salads but wonderful with fish, bake a whole Bass or Mullet with a bunch of fennel, olive oil and sea salt and you will have a stunningly simple summer main course. Also good in soups and compound butters for grilled fish, vegetables or meat.

Content and picture Miles Collins