Most Viewed Stories
Crop of the Week: Fennel
• Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) in the parsley family is a tall perennial native to the Mediterranean region, now cultivated worldwide as an annual or perennial.
• Yuma County produces about 200 acres of fennel, valued at more than $550,000. In Yuma, fennel is a fall-grown vegetable. Planting begins during the middle of September and is usually completed by the end of November.
• Often mistaken for celery, this vegetable has a different taste that is quite similar to anise or licorice. Two varieties of fennel are often used in cooking: the common or bitter fennel and sweet fennel. Sweet fennel is the more common fennel variety found in Yuma County.
• Fennel can be found in herbal teas or honey syrup and used in a variety of food and beverage products, including alcoholic drinks, meats, baked goods, processed vegetables, pickles and candies.
• Virtually all of the fennel plant is edible. The roots and stalks can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable; the stems chopped and added to salads; the bulb eaten raw or cooked; chopped leaves used in soups, with fish or added to salads; fennel seeds are used in pickles, liqueurs, tomato sauces and sausages; fennel oil is used in candy, liqueur and perfume.
• Flies are said to dislike fennel, and powdered fennel has been used to keep flies away in kennels and stables.
• The name fennel originates from the Greek word for “marathon,” named for the famous battle at Marathon in 490 B.C. where the Greeks fought against the Persians on a field of fennel.
• Traditional Chinese medicine uses fennel to treat cholera, backache, bedwetting and severe snakebites. The oil derived from fennel can be used to prevent pathogenic fungi from infecting stored fruits and vegetables. Tea made from crushed fennel seeds has been used as eyewash.
Source: Kurt Nolte is an agriculture agent and Yuma County Cooperative Extension director. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 726-3904.