I’ve been told fennel is ‘the plant’. One that grows quite easily, has many functions and of course, some exceptional flavours. I first heard it being talked about in this regard in the PDC I completed in 2015. Even though I was excited by it, the plethora of information I was consuming in those 100 hours meant, I couldn’t put it all into practice. It has stayed with me – so when my neighbour offered me some seedlings mid/late last year it all came rushing back to me. My excitement was reignited.
My mind filled with ideas of how I’d harvest the fronds, the bulb, the flowers, the pollen, the seeds and the root. All the ideas came to fruition except harvesting the root. I guess I was a little daunted by it and haven’t used it in cooking before. It’s my challenge for this week.
The seeds were what I was watching closely for weeks. When are they going to dry? Are they going to fall on the ground before I have a chance to harvest them? It didn’t happen in a flash, my nightmare of all the seeds falling to the ground while i’m catching them and stuffing them in my pockets, thankfully, didn’t come true.
I use them in quite a bit of Indian cooking and also Italian. While I am waiting for the seeds to dry, impatiently i’ll cook with the green fennel seeds – a fresh fennel taste that I miss once the seeds are all dry.
Knowing that I’ve grown them, when I drop one between jar and mortar on the bench I have this feeling of horror come over me. Normally I’d let this little gem be forgotten, swept up an put in the compost. How could I do this when I spent precious time caring for, harvesting and drying it? I squeezed it between my index and thumb and reunited it with it’s siblings.
My perspective has been changed for these anise flavourful seeds. Here’s how to harvest the seeds – simple is an understatement.
Wait until the seeds turn brown.
Cut seed heads off.
Remove seeds from stalk.
Dry in the sun on a plate if some of the seeds are a little green.
Once completely dry store in a glass jar.