Fennel has been grown for centuries. We will inform you about the origin and history of this healthy vegetable.
Fennel is a natural remedy [Photo: nnattalli / Shutterstock.com]
Fennel has been a traditional herb and medicinal plant in the Mediterranean for centuries. The Foeniculum vulgare also came to our latitudes through the Romans, but was initially only used in manageable quantities as a medicinal herb and spice. In the Middle Ages, cultivation began to a greater extent, especially in the gardens of the monasteries. The effectiveness and variety of uses quickly brought fennel to the top of the list of the most popular monastery plants! The exact origin of the fennel is still not fully understood. However, it can be assumed that it is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. It is known from tradition that the ancient Greeks used fennel as a spice and above all as a medicinal herb, often for problems with the kidneys or the bladder. Fennel has also spread over time in the Arab region and as far as China and is now also grown there on a large scale.
Fennel and its growing popularity
The fennel plant, which is exceptionally intense and tasty, has its origin probably due to its aroma. Presumably it can be derived from the Latin “foenum”, which means “hay”. Because in many languages of Europe this word stem is the main component in the naming of the fennel. The fragrant umbelliferae, also known as Köppernickel in Old German, managed to be named medicinal plant of the year in 2009. By returning to old varieties, but also new, modern breeds, the diversity of fennel is greater than ever today. Thus, every hobby gardener will probably find his favorite fennel, which presents his own garden with an aromatic scent and the plate with tasty tubers.
Uses of fennel in cooking and as a remedy
However, fennel is not just a delicious vegetable: it is also used worldwide as a natural remedy. Among other things, it is said to have a soothing effect on women's complaints, breathing problems, kidney stones, gout and eye infections. Fennel with its tasty tubers is known today in three common forms: It can grow as vegetable fennel, sweet fennel or wild fennel. The wild varieties are mainly found in the south of France, Italy and Greece, where the intense-tasting leaves are mainly used to flavor dishes. The fennel flavor is also used in all kinds of other dishes: high-proof absinthe and France's national liqueur Pastis owe their extraordinary taste to the fennel seeds. However, the fennel aroma of the seeds goes very well with pickled vegetables, Spreewald cucumbers and they also give a particularly spicy note when baking bread.
If you feel like growing fennel yourself in the garden, you will find helpful tips on sowing and care here.