Kitchen herbs: Fennel Seed

In the Mediterranean, Fennel seed has traditionally been as popular as a medicinal herb as it has been as a cooking herb. It excels as a digestive and urinary tonic.

Acting on the digestive system it relieves flatulence, abdominal distention and dull pain. In Chinese terms it can be said to warm the middle and resolve dampness. It is ideal for use after or with a big, heavy, rich meal for this reason. In regard to the urinary system is is used for incontinence, difficult or irritated urination. It is also said to benefit the vision and regulated menstruation.

To use fennel seed, simply crush a teaspoon or so and pour on boiling water to make a tea. Keep it covered while it brews to keep in the volatile oils. Excellent as an after-dinner tea to support the digestion! It is also excellent used in cooking to improve the digestibility of food, especially with rich meals or fatty meats. In many parts of Pakistan and India roasted fennel seeds are consumed as an after-meal digestive and breath freshener.

Fennel seed has a distinctive anise-flavour and is brown or green in colour when fresh. For cooking, look for green seeds, which are fresher.

CAUTION: Not for use during pregnancy as fennel stimulates the uterus.

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