Fennel seeds are really fruits and are considered a spice. Whether you prefer to use the sweet (Roman) or the bitter (wild) variety is up to you. I use both with discrimination. Sweet for cooking. Bitter for medicine. Why, you ask! Simply put, the sweet variety tastes nicer and the bitter has a higher therapeutic value.
Sweet and bitter fennel are chemically different. The sweet has less essential oils (1.5-3%) than the bitter (2-6%) variety. The amount of the substances that make up the essential oils also differ. For example, there is about 80-95% of anethole in the sweet and only 50-70% in the bitter variety. Anethole is the compound responsible for the flavor and aroma of fennel. But the sweet seeds (fruits) contain only 1% of Fenchone while the bitter variety has 12-25%!
Bitter fennel syrup and honey are used as mild a expectorant, especially for children. The tea can also be used to treat upset stomach. It takes care of excessive gas and aids digestion by stimulating the secretion of stomach juices. So have a nice cup of bitter fennel tea when you’re feeling too full from eating.
Bitter fennel fruit tea recipe
- Take 1 to 2 teaspoons of bitter fennel seeds (fruits) and crush it in a morsel. Transfer the crushed seeds (fruit) to a cup.
- Add hot water and let it steep covered for at least 10 minutes. Make sure to cover the cup with a lid to prevent the essential oils from dissipating.
- Remove lid and let the drops that condensed on the lid drip back into the cup. They contain the essential oils!
- Enjoy it 3 times per day.
It is important to crush the fruit immediately before using it. If you don’t crush fruit, not enough essential oils will seep into the water. If you use pulverized fennel from the grocery store, there won’t be enough, if any, essential oils for therapeutic use. The pulverization releases the essential oils into the air.
Many cultures use fennel in cooking. The seeds are widely used in Italian, Indian, Pakistani, Afghan, Iranian, middle eastern and Chinese cuisines.
Fennel seeds are quite nutritious. They are rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamin B, calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Fennel, like anise and caraway must be stored in an air-tight container away from light. Because of the essential oil content, it should only be roasted or ground immediately before use.
Foeniculum vulgare is a hardy perennial that belongs to the Apiaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean basin. All parts of the plant are edible.