Food Focus: Fennel
Fresh fennel bulbs are readily available in early autumn or spring. However, they can be found year round in the super markets. The bulbs can be labeled as “anise” in the markets, because of their anise like flavor.
To harvest, gently pull the whole plant off the ground firmly holding at the bulb base. Trim the roots and cut off the top green leafy stems as they rob nutrients from the fennel fronds.
In the stores, choose fresh pearly white fennel bulbs that are compact, heavy in hand, and attractive anise like sweet flavor. Buy medium-sized bulbs each weighing about 5-10 ounces.
Very large and over-mature bulbs are stringy and have a less intense flavor. Avoid dried out, shriveled bulbs and those with yellow discoloration, spots, splits, and bruised.
Recipe of the Month: Fennel Soup
Fennel bulb has some noteworthy essential oils (Anethole), flavonoid anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins that have known health benefits.
Bulb fennel is one of very low calorie vegetables. 100 g bulb provides just 31calories, generous amounts of fiber (3.1 g/100 g or 8% of RDI), very little fat and zero cholesterol.
Fresh bulbs give sweet anise-like flavor. The Anethole essential oil has been found to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
The bulbs contain several vital vitamins such as pantothenic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), folic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin in small but healthy proportions. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis and cell division. Helps prevent neural tube defects in newborn babies.
In addition, fennel bulb contains an average amount of water-soluble vitamin, vitamin-C and small amounts of vitamin A.The bulbs have very good levels of heart-friendly electrolyte potassium. Fennel also contains small amounts of minerals such as copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and selenium.