What is Fennel?
As a perennial and a member of the carrot family, fennel is indigenous to Europe and Asia Minor growing to a height of 3 – 5 feet. Fennel bears a strong resemblance to dill with its tall stalks, feathery green leaves and clusters of small flowers. Flowers of the fennel plant are distinct in their golden yellow color and will produce two seeds of each. Seeds are long and oval in shape, slightly curved with five ridges running the length of the seed. They become yellow-brown when dried and vary in length up to 3/8 inch. Though all parts of the fennel plant are edible (seeds, leaves, stalks and bulb), it is the seeds that are most common in commercial and household culinary use.
What is it used for today?
Fennel seed is common in prepared sausage seasonings as well as other Italian style products such as spaghetti sauce blends and meatball seasonings. Additionally, it has been used in the bakery industry, as an ingredient in bread, rolls and apple and other fruit pie fillings.