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Food and Wine Dictionary

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 fennel    [FEHN-uhl]

There are two main types of this aromatic plant, both with pale green, celerylike stems and bright green, featheryfoliage. Florence fennel, also called finocchio, is cultivated throughoutthe Mediterranean and in the United States. It has a broad, bulbous base that'streated like a vegetable. Both the base and stems can be eaten raw in salads orcooked in a variety of methods such as braising, sautéing or in soups. Thefragrant, graceful greenery can be used as a garnish or snipped like dill andused for a last-minute flavor enhancer. This type of fennel is often mislabeled"sweet anise," causing those who don't like the flavor of licorice to avoid it.The flavor of fennel, however, is sweeter and more delicate than anise and, whencooked, becomes even lighter and more elusive than in its raw state. Commonfennel is the variety from which the oval, greenish-brown fennel seedscome. The seeds are available whole and ground and are used in both sweet andsavory foods, as well as to flavor many LIQUEURS. As with most seeds, they should bestored in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months. Though common fennel isbulbless, its stems and greenery are used in the same ways as those of Florencefennel. Fennel is available from fall through spring. Choose clean, crisp bulbswith no sign of browning. Any attached greenery should be a fresh green color.Refrigerate, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, up to 5 days. Fennel is rich invitamin A and contains a fair amount of calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Seealso  SPICES; HERB AND SPICE CHART.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

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