The Spice Series: Fennel Seeds
This is a continuation of my Spice Series. Welcome to my information on Fennel Seeds!
**Fennel is one of those amazing plants that crosses categories: it is a vegetable, an herb, AND a spice! The bulb and stalks are a vegetable, the fronds and flowers are an herb, and if you leave the flowers on, it will produce aromatic seeds that are a spice.
**All three parts of fennel taste a bit like licorice, which means that fennel is not a very popular plant. However, fennel is FULL of medicinal benefits, and I encourage you all to try it as a vegetable, an herb, and most importantly, as a spice.
**This post is only about fennel seeds as a spice, since it is part of my Spice Series. Please click here for my post about fennel as an herb and for information on how to grow it.
**Fennel seeds are full of volatile oils and chemical compounds that are beneficial for us. They are also an incredibly powerful antioxidant: some studies have shown that it is a more powerful antioxidant than Vitamin E. Fennel seeds are also a powerful anti-inflammatory. Being both a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory means that fennel seeds can help treat or prevent many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
**Fennel seed may help prevent and/or treat:
- Alzheimer’s disease:
**Fennel seed extract has been found to have a huge impact on Alzheimer’s because it improves long-term memory. It also boosts the activity of the brain chemical called ‘acetylcholine’, which is what many Alzheimer drug do as well.
**Researchers have discovered that fennel seeds greatly decrease the swelling and pain that are part of arthritis. Much of this is related to fennel’s powerful anti-inflammatory components.
**Chewing on some fennel seeds sweetens your breath because it not only produces more saliva but also has essential oils that produce antibacterial properties that help fight bad breath germs.
**Researchers have been doing tests on animals that show that fennel seeds inhibit the formation of tumors, and researchers claim that adding fennel seeds to people’s diets will likely reduce the risk of cancer for this reason.
**In one study, doctors gave many colicky infants a product containing fennel seed and over 65 percent of those infants ended up having their colic completely eliminated.
**Fennel seed’s anti-inflammatory properties help loosen congestion and calms hacking coughs.
**In studies down on animals, researchers have found that when fennel seed extract is given to animals with glaucoma, there was a significant decrease in the pressure that damages the optic nerve.
- Heart Disease and High blood pressure:
**Fennel has been proven to lower blood pressure, which means that there is less of a risk for heart disease as well.
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases:
**Fennel has been used traditionally for digestive problems for hundreds of years. Fennel seeds help relax the lining of the intestines as well as lessen intestinal inflammation. One of the worst digestive problems is inflammatory bowel disease, which is also known as colitis (if it affects the colon) and Crohn’s disease (if it affects the intestines). Fennel seeds have proven to help significantly with these digestive problems. It also helps with gas and bloating and other minor digestive problems as well.
- Menstrual cramps and Menopause:
**Fennel seeds contain a chemical compound called phytoestrogens. These compounds are a woman’s best friend when it comes to relieving menstrual cramps. One study showed that fennel seeds were just as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen for helping lessen cramps. Fennel seeds have also been proven to have a balancing effect on the female reproductive system and helps women going through hormonal imbalances that are caused by menopause.
**Do YOU use fennel seeds for medicinal purposes? If so, how? Please feel free to add your uses of fennel seeds in the comment section below!
**Fennel seed has a strong anise-flavored taste, and it works well in bot sweet and savory recipes. It also helps give balance to spice blends. They are very popular in many cuisines around the world.
**Fennel is a popular spice in Mediterranean food, especially in Italy. One of their liqueurs, Sambuca, is flavored with fennel, and Italian sausages, meatballs, and meats were flavored with fennel as well.
**Other European cuisines use fennel as well. The French use it in their pastas, sauces, and fish dishes. The English use fennel seeds in their soups; the Germans use them in their breads and sauerkraut; and the Spanish use fennel seeds in their cakes and baked goods.
**Other world regions use fennel in their meals as well. In Asia, fennel seeds are used in sweet and sour dishes and fish sauces and is also added to many Chinese five-spice blends. In India, fennel seed is an important ingredient in their curry powders. They also use it in their soups, lentil and rice dishes, and pickles. In addition, many Indian restaurants give sugar-coated fennel seeds at the end of dinner to both freshen breath and help digestion.
**Fennel seed pairs well with these herbs and spices: Allspice, Bay leaf, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Fenugreek, Garlic, Ginger, Marjoram, Mustard seed, Rosemary, Tamarind, Turmeric
**It complements recipes containing: Cheese, Curries, Mushrooms, Pasta, Poultry, Salmon, Sausage, and Tomatoes.
**Here are some ideas for how to add more fennel seed to your diet:
• Mix a tablespoon of seeds into your favorite dough to add a new layer of complexity to your breads.
• Dry and crush toasted fennel seeds and steep them in tea for flavor as well as medicinal benefits.
• Sprinkle fennel seeds on top of cakes and muffins before baking.
• Add ground fennel to scrambled eggs for a unique taste.
• Make spiced olives by marinating 2 cups of olives in ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil and 1 teaspoon each of fennel seeds, dried oregano, and dried thyme.
•Add fennel seeds to your salmon and tuna recipes.
•Of course, add fennel seeds to your homemade sausage recipes!
**Do YOU use fennel seeds for culinary purposes? If so, how? Please feel free to add your favorite fennel seed recipes in the comment section below!
**Unlike many other seeds, fennel seeds do not have to be toasted, however, if you DO toast them, it will sweeten their flavor and make them taste a bit like brown sugar. Make sure you do not burn them, though, because then they will be bitter.
**You can find fennel seeds either whole or ground in most grocery stores. However, as is usually the case, it is best to buy them whole. The volatile oils in fennel seeds begins to lessen the moment they are ground, so it is best to grind them yourself right before using them in your recipe.
**Whole fennel seeds will keep for at least 3 years in an airtight contain in a cool, dark place. Ground seeds will lose their fragrance/taste in less than 6 months.
**For information on how to grow fennel, check out my other post on the entire plant here.
There you go! This is most of the information that I could find about fennel seeds. Please click here for my introduction to my Spice Series. Again, if you have any comments, questions, or extra information for me, please feel free to post in the comment section below!