- Can I Regrow Fennel – Tips On Growing Fennel In Water
- Can I Regrow Fennel?
- Growing Fennel in Water
- How to recognize if yours is fresh
- How to store the bulb
- How to use this veggie in the kitchen
- How it can help to improve your health
Can I Regrow Fennel – Tips On Growing Fennel In Water
Fennel is a popular vegetable for many gardeners because it has such a distinctive flavor. Similar in taste to licorice, it’s especially common in fish dishes. Fennel can be started from seed, but it’s also one of those vegetables that regrows very well from the stub that’s left over after you finish cooking with it. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow fennel from scraps.
Can I Regrow Fennel?
Can I regrow fennel? Absolutely! When you buy fennel from the store, the bottom of the bulb should have a noticeable base to it – this is where the roots grew from. When you cut up your fennel to cook with, leave this base and just a little bit of the attached bulb intact.
Regrowing fennel plants is very easy. Simply place the little piece you saved in a shallow dish, glass, or jar of water, with the base facing down. Place this on a sunny windowsill and change the water every couple of days so the fennel doesn’t have a chance to rot or get moldy.
Growing fennel in water is as easy as that. In just a few days, you should see new green shoots growing up from the base.
Growing Fennel in Water
After a little more time, new roots should start to sprout from the base of your fennel. Once you reach this stage, you have two choices. You can either keeping on growing fennel in water, where it should continue to grow. You can harvest from it periodically like this, and as long as you keep it in the sun and change its water every now and again, you should have fennel forever.
Another option when regrowing fennel plants from scraps is to transplant into soil. After a few weeks, when the roots are big and strong enough, move your plant to a container. Fennel likes well-draining soil and a deep container.
I love being The Hungry Gardener and growing my own produce. Fennel is my favourite veggie by far. Everything tastes better with fennel.
It reminds me of cosy winter nights sitting around Nonna’s table eating the homemade pork sausages she had laced with it.
Native to the Mediterranean, it is one of the oldest cultivated plants and the Romans believed it aided weight loss. Fennel is a fragrant perennial that can grow to a height of 1.5m.
Like other members of the carrot family, it has beautiful dark green leaves and umbel flowers that produce seeds you can harvest in late summer or autumn. The seeds of wild fennel are often used as a spice, and Florence fennel is grown for its bulb-like stem.
Here’s my go-to guide to growing fennel at home…
Fennel loves full sun and well-draining soil, though it will tolerate poor soil. It propagates well from seed. Soak the seeds in water for a couple of days prior to planting to help speed up the germination process. It takes about three months for fennel to mature. It can be planted in either late summer or early spring. If you are growing fennel for seeds, the plant will bloom in the second year because it is a perennial. The plant can be cut back after flowering to encourage new, bushy growth.
Water once or twice weekly as needed. Keep the soil moist but never soggy – let the soil nearly dry out before giving the fennel a good, long soak.
Apply an organic fertiliser if needed to enrich the soil. However, there’s no need to plant fennel in rich, well-fertilised soil, as overfeeding the plant will cause it to lose most of its aromatic oils and flavour.
Fennel benefits from a severe prune – cut back foliage and deadhead to encourage bushier growth.
Don’t plant fennel near dill. Cross-pollination between the two results in strangely flavoured seeds for both plants. Fennel is great for attracting beneficial insects to the garden.
Harvesting & storage
Fennel bulbs grow at the base of the plants, just above the soil’s surface. For a better flavour and to keep the bulbs white, blanch them. Harvest the bulbs when they’re no larger than a tennis ball, cutting them off at the soil line.
If you’re growing fennel for seed, the flowers will grow and mature late in the plant’s second summer or autumn. Watch the seeds closely to ensure they’re turning brown but haven’t started popping off the umbel (flower cluster).
To harvest, wrap a paper bag or muslin cloth around the umbel before cutting the stalk to catch any loose seeds. Hang the stalks to dry, and once they’ve dried, shake the stalks to release the remaining seeds. Be absolutely sure that the seeds are completely dry before storing in an airtight container.
If you want to harvest fennel for both its seeds and bulbs you’ll need to have multiple plants, as the bulbs need to be harvested before the plants go to seed. You can harvest fennel leaves throughout the growing season.
According to a study as per an article in The Atlantic, single-family households in Toronto discard about 275 kilograms of food waste per year. Food waste is becoming a serious problem that has been contributing to global warming, which is one of the reasons as to why Urban Cultivator came to be.
With this in mind, it’s important to make the most out of your produce—which is where vegetable cuttings come in. If you haven’t done this before, now is a good of a time as ever. Here’s how to grow some of your favorite vegetables out of their cuttings.
– Place leftover lettuce leaves in a bowl with a bit of water in the bottom
– Keep bowl somewhere that gets good sunlight
– Mist leaves with water a couple of times each week
– Once roots appear along with new leaves, transplant in soil
– Cut off bottom/base of celery and lay in a bowl with a bit of warm water in the bottom
– Keep bowl in direct sunlight
– When leaves thicken and grow along base, transplant your celery in soil
– Take green onion roots and put them in a glass with enough water to cover them
– Change water every few days
– In about a week’s time, you will have new green onion
– Take seed and wash it thoroughly
– Use toothpicks to suspend the seed over water in a bowl/jar, with enough water to fill bowl/jar to cover bottom inch of seed
– Keep bowl/jar in a warm place but not in direct sunlight
– Check the water every day and add more as needed
– Once stem and roots appear and stem reaches ~6 inches, cut it down to 3 inches
– When leaves appear, plant the seed in soil (but leave half of the seed above ground)
– Plant a piece of ginger root in potting soil and make sure buds are facing up
– Once new shoots/roots appear, it’s ready to use
– Use a piece of garlic and plant it with the roots facing down in potting soil
– Keep the pot in direct sunlight and in a warm place
– Once new shoots appear, cut the shoots back and wait for bulb (which is when it’s ready to use)
– Keep an inch of the base of your fennel and place in a container with a cup of water; leave in direct sunlight
– Once roots grow and new greens hoots appear from center of the base, transplant your new fennel
– Keep a basil stem (~4 inches) and place in glass of water with the leaves above the waterline
– Leave glass in a bright area (but avoid direct sunlight)
– Once roots are a couple of inches in length, transplant in soil
– Keep a few stems of cilantro and place bottom of stem in a glass of water; leave the glass in a bright area
– Once roots reach a few inches in length, transplant in soil
– Keep tops of turnip and place in a jar of water
– Once new green tops appear, transplant in soil
*This method works for all root vegetables, including beets and parsnips
Regrowing vegetables from scraps are a great way to get the most mileage out of your groceries, and a great starting point to combating global warming.
The Urban Cultivator appliance is another excellent method in lowering your food waste and reducing your carbon footprint. Since you only harvest what you need at any given time, you are able to minimize spoilage. Plus, with a wide variety of seeds to choose from, you’ll be able to feel good about your culinary adventures.
What’s your favorite vegetable to regrow? Let us know in the comments section!
I’ve seen fennel stump more than one home cook, with its wide bulb and the celery-like branches radiating off it. I get it, it’s weird-looking…where do you start? Honestly, it’s easy. Plus, fennel is a treasure trove of goodies: There’s the crisp-tender bulb, the aromatic stalks, and the herb-like fronds. Here’s how to slice it, dice it, or do whatever else you want with it. Just don’t get too freaky, okay?
First off, you’ll need a sharp knife and a vegetable peeler. I’m a big fan of the Y-peelers made by Kuhn Rikon.
Trimming and Cleaning
The first step is to cut off the stalks where they meet the top of the bulb. Don’t just throw them out, though: The stalks can be used to flavor stocks, especially fish stock (a.k.a. fumet), and soups. And the fronds should be treated like delicate, anise-scented herbs that can be minced and tossed into a salad or sauce, or used as a garnish. They’re a heck of a lot prettier than parsley leaves.
Most fennel bulbs look a bit bruised, dirty, and dinged on their surface. A lot of cookbooks and cooking guides say to pull off that outer layer and discard it. I find this wasteful; instead, just peel it. You’ll get rid of the undesirable exterior, but save a significant portion of edible fennel in the process.
Once it’s peeled, trim off the root end of the bulb.
You now have a cleaned, trimmed fennel bulb that can be halved or quartered for roasting, sliced for salads, or diced for sautéing.
The main thing you want to decide when slicing fennel is whether to do it with the core in or out. Fennel is built a lot like an onion, with multiple layers held together by a core. In an onion, that core is very small, while in fennel, it’s quite a bit larger and extends farther up from the root into the center of the bulb.
In the case of fennel, the core is entirely edible, if a tiny bit firmer than the rest of the bulb. This means you can either leave it in or cut it out. Leaving it in will produce slices that each contain multiple layers of fennel, all held together by the core. If you take the core out, you’ll get very thin individual strips.
When it’s cored, you can choose between two ways of slicing the fennel: pole to pole (with the knife parallel to the line running from the root end to the stalk end), which produces straighter slices; or orbitally (with the knife perpendicular to the pole-to-pole line), which produces more rounded slices. The photos here show the straighter, pole-to-pole option.
Slicing Fennel With the Core Attached
Begin by slicing the fennel bulb in half through the middle, cutting parallel to the bulb’s wider dimension.
Lay each half on the flat cut side, and slice lengthwise to your desired thickness. As you can see, you end up with slices that each include the bulb’s layers, held together by the core. You can eat them raw, roast them, or sear them in a skillet; grilling is a good choice for this type of cut, too, since the size of the slices makes them less likely to fall through the grate into the coals below.
Slicing Fennel Without the Core
To make thinner sliced strips, you’ll want to remove the core first. To do that, start by quartering the bulb through the middle. Each quarter will have a quarter of the core attached to it. Hold your knife at a 45-degree angle relative to the cutting board, and slice the core out.
Now cut each cored fennel quarter into lengthwise slices, to your desired thickness. You’ll end up with individual strips of sliced fennel. This kind of cut is great in salads, for instance, or, if sliced thickly, as part of a crudité platter.
Dicing fennel is much like dicing an onion. Starting with your peeled bulb, once again cut it in half through the middle, parallel to the bulb’s wider dimension.
Set each half flat on a cutting board, and slice down through the bulb in a series of vertical cuts, being careful not to cut all the way through the root end, so that the layers remain connected.
Then make a series of horizontal cuts in the bulb. Finally, dice the fennel by making a series of vertical cuts perpendicular to the first set of vertical cuts, using the knuckles of your non-knife hand as a guide for the blade.
How far apart you space the vertical and horizontal cuts will determine the final dice size.
And that’s it. Let no unruly bulb of fennel be a source of intimidation ever again. You can find more fennel coverage and recipes here.
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Have you tried fennel, specifically fennel bulb?
Until the last few weeks my experience with fennel has been limited to fennel seeds in Italian sausages, Indian dishes and a sliced fennel salad in a fancy restaurant several years ago . It’s high time to explore this unique looking and tasting veggie a little more!
What is Fennel?
Fennel is a perennial vegetable that is native to the Mediterranean area. It is part of the Apiaceae Family that also includes carrots, dill, parsley, coriander, caraway, parsnips, etc. While sometimes labelled as “Anise” in grocery stores, fennel and anise are not the same thing. Both have that licorice like flavor, but they are two different plants.
Fennel plants grow a bulbous base above the ground with tall feathery fronds shooting up 2 to 4 feet depending on variety. Some fennel varieties grown specifically for its fronds and seeds may grow up to 8 feet tall – an impressive backdrop for any garden.
Photo from the University of California
Sonoma County Master Gardeners
Every part of the plant can be used – the bulb, feathery fronds, stalks, seeds and even the pollen or flower heads. Fennel is quite popular in Indian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, North African and European cuisine.
The bulb can be eaten raw, sauteed, roasted, baked or in soups and stews. The stalks are added to soups and stews for flavor while the fronds are added to dressings and salads for flavor and garnishes.
How to Select Fennel Bulbs
Fennel bulbs are in peak season from late autumn to early spring. To select the best bulbs…
- look for large, tight bulbs that are white or pale green
- avoid bulbs that have any signs of splitting, bruising or spotting
- check the fronds to ensure there are no signs of flower heads – a sign that the fennel has bolted and passed its optimum maturity
- look at the root bottom, it should have very little browning and you should see a solid root end covering most of the bottom (like the root end of celery or romaine lettuce)
Take a look at the fennel in the photo below. This is exactly how I bought it. What do you see?
There are several tell tale signs that this fennel is beyond fresh. Old fennel is still safe to eat, but it will have lost some of its flavor and nutritional value. Here’s what’s wrong…
- The root end is dry with quite a bit of brown.
- The root plate that should be covering most of the bottom is only in the center, leaving at least two layers of fennel exposed.
- A piece of broken plastic is embedded in the root end. That piece of plastic used to hold the product label that gives the PLU code and country of origin. It was probably cut or broken off when the root end was cut.
- The bulb is unusually small for fennel, almost as if several layers have been removed.
I suspect this fennel bulb has been stripped and cut to remove outer layers that may not have looked fresh any more. The product label and root end certainly look like they have been cut off. If you see tell tale signs like this, you’re best bet is to skip the fennel. How about a nice spinach salad instead!
How to Store Fennel
To store fennel, trim the fronds to two or three inches above the bulb (if not already done). Wrap loosely in a plastic bag and store in the fridge for 5 days or 10 days if you’re getting fennel direct from the garden or farmer.
How to Cut Fennel
Fennel can be cut in different ways depending on the recipe – quartered, wedged, julienned (thin strips), diced or sliced.
To begin, cut the stalks off the bulb. If the bulb is very wobbly, cut the bulb in half first to give you a stable surface.
Remove the core at the root end.
For very thin slices, make thin horizontal cuts from the top of the bulb to the root end.
For julienne strips, make evenly spaced cuts vertically through the bulb. Cut these strips into small pieces for diced fennel.
For thicker wedges, cut each half in half again, repeat until you get the desired thickness.
Fennel Recipes to Try
Fennel Orange and Celery Salad
Fennel and Red Cabbage Coleslaw
Roasted Fennel, Carrots and Onions
Sausage, Fennel and Spinach Pasta
For You Gardeners – Can I Grow Fennel in My Garden?
As a perennial, fennel requires a Zone 6 or higher to grow. It is a cool weather crop that requires careful watering and will bolt quickly if temperatures get too hot.
Some varieties mature within 65 days, which means it can also be grown as an annual in Zones 2 to 6. That’s great news for us Northern Gardeners. Personally, I think those feathery fronds would make an attractive addition to flower beds as well as vegetable gardens.
Thanks to the Canadian Home Economics Foundation for its support in helping me share ideas for making home cooking easy and enjoyable. Testing and trying various recipes – some which never get posted – takes a lot of time and product. The Foundation’s support makes it possible for me to test various foods without the pressure of corporate sponsors that desire a certain outcome!
Here’s me on CTV Morning Live doing a little fennel demo.
Getty Stewart is an engaging speaker and writer providing tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas to make home cooking easy and enjoyable. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.
Rounded and curvy, with long stalks and fine green fronds sticking out atop its white bulb, fennel makes quite an impression.
Not everyone likes its distinct flavor, but I love it. It’s a sweet, cooling vegetable, reminiscent of licorice with a flavor that’s similar to dill or anise.
In fact, both anise and fennel belong to the Apiaceae plant family. You may see a vegetable labelled anise at the grocery store, but chances are, it is really fennel – only the seeds of the anise plant are typically used in cooking.
I’m sure you’ve seen it before, but have you tried it? Some people may feel intimidated by the strange look of this vegetable, maybe because they have no idea how to use it in their cooking. But actually, it’s easy to prepare.
In this article, let’s take a look at the following topics:
- How to recognize if yours is fresh
- How to store the bulb
- How to use this veggie in the kitchen
- How it can help to improve your health
How to recognize if yours is fresh
Whether you get your veggies in a grocery store or at a farmers market, be on the lookout for these shiny white bulbs. They should feel firm and smell like anise, or even licorice.
If you notice brown marks on its white outer layers, you’ll know the fennel bulb’s best days are already behind it.
The stalks are edible, too. They should appear a vibrant light green, and with no dry or cut surfaces.
The green fronds at the end of its stalks should also be an intense color, without any wilted parts.
How to store the bulb
Fresh fennel is a sensitive soul.
Although it looks quite solid, it can easily acquore brown pressure marks and become soft. So treat it carefully – and be sure not to store it wedged between other vegetables.
The root vegetable is comfortable with cooler temperatures. The vegetable drawer of your fridge is an excellent place to keep it fresh.
Although you can store it wrapped in a brown paper bag on the counter for 2-3 days, you can also extend its shelf life up to 7-12 days total by covering it with a moistened kitchen towel, and keeping it in the fridge.
Freezing it is another idea that works out fine. This way, you can keep fennel fresh for up to 8 months.
An important step to remember: you must blanche it before freezing! Follow these simple steps:
- Quarter the bulb.
- Place in boiling water for 1 minute, with the juice of half a lemon squeezed in, to keep the fennel’s bright color.
- Place in zip-top bags, seal, and freeze.
How to use this veggie in the kitchen
Using fennel in your cooking is a wonderful way to add fresh flavor to your favorite dishes.
It goes well with many other vegetables – and one great advantage is that you can enjoy it raw, fried, or cooked. So whenever you’re looking for a raw salad ingredient or a warm vegetable side dish, fennel is a tasty all-around choice for both.
Plus, it’s incredibly practical that you can use all parts of it for cooking. Besides the bulb, the fine, green fronds are perfect for use in sauces, dressings, or salads. Their feathered appearance makes a nice garnish for soups or other dishes, too.
Before adding fennel to your meal, make sure it’s clean – sand or dirt can gather between the onion-like layers. With very large specimens, I also cut out the inside stalk, because it can have a bitter flavor and might too tough in texture to chew easily.
Determining how to cut it depends on the dish you will add it to. For raw salads, coarsely shredding it is a fine idea.
For stir fries, I like to chop it into chunks, either thin or thick. When cooked as a vegetable side dish, I love to cut it into quarters or thick slices – sometimes with the fronds still on – and serve it just like that. This looks fresh and fancy when it’s plated.
Whether you want to try it out for the first time or you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some tips describing what you might choose to combine with fennel in order to unveil its delicious, aromatic, full flavor.
If you haven’t done it before, try combining the bulb with Mediterranean vegetables – like sweet bell peppers, juicy tomatoes, or olives. Mushrooms like chanterelles or champignons are a delicious choice, too. You will see that the fresh flavor goes well with these kinds of ingredients.
A classic companion, this can be white fish, salmon, or more delicate seafood like prawns. Combined with a sauce of butter and white wine, it adds divine flavors to seemingly everyday dishes.
Just because fennel is an amazing pairing with fish doesn’t mean it won’t work well with meat! On the contrary, I love to serve fried slices of the vegetable with pan-seared pork chops or beef, along with some mashed potatoes or cooked rice.
If you’re more into turkey or chicken, fennel is the right answer. These lean meats combine with this vegetable just perfectly – especially when accompanied with a fruit and cream sauce, opening up some fresh flavor perspectives!
If you’re looking for a spice that works beautifully with the veggie, turn to curry powder. This mix of hot and fresh is a winner! Other aromatic spices like cardamom work better with fennel in certain dishes, but since I love to experiment, I recommend that you try out some other pairings and see what you like.
Don’t be afraid of mixing fennel with fruit. It pairs well with oranges and grapefruit, which have juicy, fruity aromas that are more than agreeable with that anise-like flavor.
How it can help to improve your health
As with so many vegetables and herbs, essential oils are responsible for the intense aromas and healthy compounds found within this vegetable.
These can bring relief to problems like bloating or digestive troubles. Plus, they can have anti-inflammatory effects – advantages found in the fresh bulb, as well as the seeds. Both parts may provide similar benefits.
The nutritional value of fresh fennel stands out, too. Have a look at how adding fennel to your menu can improve your diet:
- It contains twice as much vitamin C as oranges
- A medium-size bulb meets approximately 1/4 the daily requirement for calcium
- It is packed with iron, folic acid, phosphorus, and vitamins A and E
- Keeping an eye on calories? It only contains 24 per 100 grams
So, the next time you’re in need of a healthy snack, why not nibble on some fresh fennel sticks?
Maybe the wonderful veggie is already a part of your menu! Do you love the anise-like flavor of this interesting food? What do you like to combine it with in the kitchen? Share your experiences with fennel with me below.
The staff at Foodal are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
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About Nina-Kristin Isensee
Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.
Whether you grow your own fennel in your garden or picked up more than you can use on a trip to the grocery store, freezing extra fennel is a great and relatively simple way to preserve it for later. The three parts of the fennel, the bulb, stalks and leaves, should each be frozen separately. Fennel has a taste similar to licorice. Although the large, white bulb usually takes center stage in recipes, the delicate leaves work as an herb, and the stalks are good for flavoring soups and stocks.
Cut the green stalks from the white bulb, and remove the leaves from the stalks.
Place the leaves in an ice cube tray in quantities you’d need for a recipe, such as 1/2 teaspoon. Cover the leaves with water, and place in the freezer.
Chop the stalks. Place the chopped stalks in another ice cube tray in equal quantities, as with the leaves. Cover with water and place in the freezer.
Boil a pot of water on the stove. As the water heats, cut the white bulb into quarters or eighths.
Fill a bowl halfway with ice, and add cold water until the ice is floating.
Place the fennel pieces in the pot of water when it is boiling. Allow the fennel to cook in the boiling water for 30 seconds.
Transfer the fennel bulb sections to the ice cold water until they cool.
Place the fennel sections in a freezer-safe plastic bag, and label the bag.
Transfer the cubes of fennel leaves and the cubes of fennel stalk to separate freezer bags when the water in the ice cube trays has frozen. Label the bags with the date and the amount of fennel leaves or stalks contained in each cube.
If you prefer, slice the fennel instead of sectioning it if before boiling and rapidly cooling it, a process called blanching.
Defrosted fennel will not retain its crisp character, although the taste will be unchanged.