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November 15th, 2009 at 05:16 pm

When I decided to cook soup with a crockpot, rather than the usual onions, I decided to take a chance on something called a fennel?

Truth to tell, I didn't even know what it was when I saw it. The grocery store didn't have a name printed for it or anything. All I knew was that it looked like a cross between a celery and an onion, and it had a particularly distinct aroma, similar to onion but not really.

The scary part is that they turned out to be $2 a piece, but I figure that it was worth trying anyways. (The price wasn't printed, so I didn't know until it was rung up.)

When I got home and looked it up on the internet, it mentioned that it was not only nutritious, but was also medicinal in some way. Interesting.

Unfortunately, 12 hours in the crockpot made the fennel give off a strong, bitter smell, and it did not do much to soften up the vegetable. Overall though, the soup still ended up fine.

So, even though I won't use fennel again, it was a new and interesting experience just the same. And for that, it was worth $2.

7 Responses to “Fennel”

  1. ceejay74 Says:

    Ouch, yeah, fennel has almost a licorice-y flavor. LOL. I get it once in awhile from my CSA and usually (I hate to say) it goes to waste if I don't find someone to give it away to. I love fennel seeds though; we make a lot of vegetarian sausage and that's a key flavor in it. Pepperoni too I believe.

  2. baselle Says:

    Good to hear that the fennel didn't affect your soup. Nothing like having soup that tastes like a cough drop. Smile Fennel is supposed to be great braised - sauteed in a pan with only a small amount of oil. The Italians, particularly Romans, have a lot of good recipes for it.

  3. Broken Arrow Says:

    Oh! So that's the seed they use in sausages and pepperoni? Didn't know that. Read on the internet that the seed is the most potent of the plant. I can see why. Anyways, thanks for sharing. Love learning something new.

  4. toyguy1963 Says:

    I love putting fennel seeds in spaghetti. Adds a nice flavor to it. Never tried using the actual plant for anything.

  5. creditcardfree Says:

    Wow! You are brave. I've never cooked anything with fennel.

  6. Joan.of.the.Arch Says:

    You are an adventurous guy, BA! The fennel you bought is called "finnochio" or "bulbing fennel." (Most fennel does not form that white thickened stem end like that.) To cook it, I would cut off all the green pieces of stem, down to the white part. Slice off just the thinnest piece of the bottom of the "bulb" to get a clean surface. Steam it is a fairly rich chicken broth, not fat-free, until the bulb is tender. (Sorry don't know how long). Oh, you can put the green pieces of stem in, too, to extract the flavor, but don't expect to eat that part as it doesn't usually get tender enough. If it turns out you absolutely love fennel, you can kind of strip the cooked green stems with your teeth leaving behind the fiber-y part.

    Serve about 1/4 of the bulb in a small bowl with a few spoonfuls of the both. To me this is a very strong, but, mmm, sophisticated taste. Certainly not everyone is going to like it. I freeze extra portions.

    Unfortunately, not all fennel is equal either. I have not figured out how to tell a good fennel bulb from a disappointing one before cooking and tasting it. Some stay pretty tough and some are much sweeter than others.---You described it as bitter; I would describe a good fennel as sweet! Maybe you did not get a great one.

    Whenever you start your gardening, BA, this is one you can grow! Even growing them in my garden, I have not figured out how to always make the bulbs sweet and plump. Oh, but besides the base end of the stem ("bulb") and the seeds, I also harvest the flowers and flower buds. They are even more sweet and are so good in an iceberg lettuce salad, plus give the salad. sprinkle of yellow color. Butterflies are attracted by fennel in the garden and you can also grow bronze fennel--yes that is its color.

    All you wanted to know about fennel and more, eh?

  7. Broken Arrow Says:

    Yeah, the green stem is the toughest part, and not knowing better, I cooked that part. Definitely not celery-like! The bulb cooked just fine though, and yes, I did cut the bottom off like I usually would similar veggies.

    As for being adventurous, I've always known I was a plodding and methodical kind of guy. That's why a friend of mine back in high school told me I should be spontaneous sometimes, and make sure to seize opportunities when it presents itself. I've never forgotten that.

    That's what I did when I saw the fennel. And even though I didn't know what it was at the time, it was only a veggie, so I didn't think it was a huge risk or anything. I also double checked the internet before I cooked it, to make sure it wasn't poisonous or anything. Big Grin

    Anyway, thank you for the inputs and compliments.

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