What is Fennel?

When someone asks what is fennel, most people respond by saying it's a seed that tastes like black licorice. However there is more to fennel than a licorice tasting seed. Fennel is also considered a vegetable that has a bulb that looks like an onion which can be roasted and served with a flavored vinegar.

What is Fennel?What is Fennel?

What is Fennel Basics

  • Fennel, foeniculum vulgare, is a highly prized Mediterranean food and spice that adds a distinctive flavor to Italian foods

  • It has a very high vitamin C content.

  • This vegetable contains folic acid, calcium, both manganese and magnesium plus iron

  • A three-ounce serving contains only 27 calories.

  • Eating fennel provides about a gram of protein, less than one gram of fat and a little over two and half grams of fiber.

  • While this is a very nutritious vegetable very young children and pregnant women should not eat large quantities due to its naturally occurring coumarins and volatile oils.

Fennel can be eaten raw, in salads, chopped and cooked, roasted with other vegetables or meat and dried for later use. The high iron content helps prevent anemia and improves the nutrition of dishes when fresh fennel is added.

What is Fennel Cultivation

The question remains, what is fennel because it is not commonly grown in backyard gardens and not many people realize that this plant, which is related to Parsley can self seed in agricultural zones 9 and up. Seasonal planting of fennel is possible by setting seed early in the year and transplanting them to the herb bed or garden plot.

What is Fennel Benefits

Fennel has been used for centuries to sweetened breath especially the foul odor caused by gingivitis and to calm upset stomachs.

  • The anti-spasmodic properties of the dried fennel seed has been used to treat cramping, painful digestion and menstrual discomfort.

  • A few fennel seeds combined with raspberry leaf tea has been used to increase milk production in lactating mothers and can be used for animal mothers when crushed and added to their feed.

  • Combined with mint, chamomile and other herbs for colds and respiratory complaints Fennel may provide additional comfort by lessening the severity of coughing.

  • The ground dried seeds act as a laxative, in part from the high amount of dietary fiber.

  • The high vitamin C content may help rid the intestines of excess or harmful bacteria.

  • It contains specific chemicals that may prove valuable as a cancer preventative and the diuretic action of the plant.

When asking what is fennel, be sure to include the nutritional value, as well as the possible medicinal aspects in your answer.

What is Fennel Used for Now and Then?

The dried seed was the most commonly used part of the plant for medicinal purposes, while the essential oil is very good at deodorizing. Many cosmetics and personal hygiene products are made with fennel, including toothpaste, soap, perfume, deodorants, and air freshening potpourri and sprays. Other fennel uses include:

  • Fennel sprigs tied to a dog’s collar may help prevent flea infestations.

  • The entire plant can be ground, soaked in a quart of water, strained and used as an insect repellent.

  • The sweet smell of fennel combined with rushes have been used to cover ground floors in houses for centuries

  • The leaves produce a brown fabric dye and the flowers a light yellow dye.

Eating healthy does not have to mean eating bland foods especially if you add Fennel with a wide variety of foods. 


What is fennel in soup?

  • 3 Fennel bulbs trimmed and sliced
  • 2 Medium chopped onions
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ Teaspoon anise seed
  • 1 Teaspoon fennel seed
  • ½ Cup dry white wine
  • 2 Quarts chicken broth
  • 3 Cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon dry green peppercorns crushed
  • 6 Medium red potatoes cut in quarters
  • 3 Tablespoons snipped fennel leaves
  • Salt/pepper
  • 1 ½ Cups heavy cream

Melt butter in large heavy pan; sauté fennel and onion until tender.

Stir in anise and fennel seeds; add wine and chicken broth and bring to a boil.

If necessary skim off top; add garlic, peppercorns and potatoes.

Cover and simmer until potatoes are tender about 30 minutes; set off to cool.

Put in food processor and puree; return to pot.

Add heavy cream, fennel leaves, salt and pepper to taste.

Reheat soup but do not boil; ladle into bowls and serve immediately.


What is fennel with chicken?

  • ½ Cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ Cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 10 Pitted minced green olives 
  • 3 Cloves minced garlic PLUS 2 heads separated but unpeeled
  • 1 Chicken cut into pieces
  • Salt/pepper
  • ½ Cup dry white wine
  • ½ Cup water
  • 4 Small fennel bulbs quartered lengthwise and cored
  • ¼ Cup dried currants
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 Warmed pitas (8 inches)
  • Fresh oregano sprigs for garnish

Combine in food processor the vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, green olives and 3 cloves of garlic; process to a paste.

Blend in the water and dry white wine; set aside.

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper; put chicken in a bowl.

Pour blended marinade over the chicken making sure all is coated.

Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

PREHEAT OVEN TO 400F degrees

Arrange chicken pieces skin side up in a roasting pan; scatter the fennel and unpeeled garlic around the chicken.

Cover pan with foil; bake on top shelf of the oven for 30 minutes; turn fennel and bake 20 minutes.


Bake 20 minutes longer or until chicken is lightly browned and thoroughly cooked.

Transfer chicken, fennel and garlic to a large bowl.

Add currants and soy sauce to the juices in the pan; cook over medium heat until slightly reduced about 5 minutes.

Cover a platter with the pitas; top with the chicken, fennel and garlic.

Pour the sauce over all; garnish with oregano sprigs.


  • 1 Cup toasted pecan halves
  • ½ Cup dried cranberries chopped
  • ¼ Cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 ¼ Teaspoons salt
  • 1 Cup olive oil
  • 6 Bunches watercress (remove large stems)
  • 3 Fennel bulbs (trimmed; cored, thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • 3 Small heads radicchio (tear in bite size pieces)

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

In a glass bowl combine cranberries, vinegar, garlic and salt.

Add oil and whisk to blend; let stand for 20 to 30 minutes.

In a large salad bowl combine watercress, fennel, radicchio and pecans; toss to blend.

Stir dressing to blend and pour over salad mix; toss to coat and serve.

What is Fennel? It is a tasty, nutritious vegetable and culinary herb that provides a natural remedy for a variety of minor medical conditions, as well being used for person hygiene, cleansing and other household applications.