Wild fennel: where to find it, how to recognize it, when to collect it and how to use it in the kitchen. All information about this spontaneous edible herb.
Wild fennel: where to find it? Before I tell you where to look for wild fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) we tell you when it is harvested ... practically all year round!
This edible herb spontanea offers something all year round: in spring the shoots and leaves are collected, the stems are collected in late spring while in early summer the flowers are collected. Winter also plays its part: in this period of the year, wild fennel roots can be harvested. In summary, the harvesting period for wild fennel varies, therefore:
- spring is the best time to collect shoots and leaves.
- To harvest the stems, the best time is May.
- From June - July and throughout the summer, the aromatic flowers of wild fennel are harvested.
- In winter, the roots are harvested.
- From July until the end of August, wild fennel seeds are harvested.
Wild fennel, how to recognize it
Thewild fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is easy to recognize: just look at the finely jagged leaves so that they appear threadlike. It has fleshy stems with the peel that easily detaches from the pith (the stems can be “peeled). In summer it has yellow flowers arranged in umbrellas, it is from the flowers that the small fruits are formed that are often improperly calledfennel seeds. The flowering plant, in optimal conditions, can reach a height of a couple of meters.
Wild fennel, where to find it
Thewild fennel(Foeniculum vulgare) grows spontaneously throughout Italy, including the islands, so it won't be difficultfind it, you just need to look in the right places.
Wild fennel belongs to the same species as cultivated fennel. It differs from the latter in the absence of the swelling at the base of the leaf sheaths, that is the part of the white fennel that we consume in the kitchen. There are manyvarietyofwild fennelso much so that the plant can be more or less aromatic.
Thewild fennelit grows best in the Mediterranean environment but is also able to adapt to less temperate climates up to the mountains (it grows up to 1,000 meters above sea level). It is widespread throughout Italy as well as in Europe and in many parts of the world.
If you know a sunny place with limestone soil, this is the ideal place forfind the wild fennel. It also adapts well to stony soils and grows perfectly both on rocky slopes and in meadows. This is why it is always counted among theedible grasses of the meadows or edible herbs of the fields. It prefers the sun but also adapts to partial shade, it can grow spontaneously in uncultivated fields as well as in vegetable gardens, on paths or at the edges of sunny walls.
Wild fennel, where to find it:
- In a sunny or partial shade.
- Along the paths or walls.
- In uncultivated fields, in the meadows, in the vegetable gardens ...
- In calcareous, stony soils or rocky slopes.
- It grows in the plains and in the mountains, up to 1,000 meters above sea level.
- It prefers the Mediterranean climate.
Wild fennel in the kitchen
Thewild fennelit is widely used in herbal medicine, in fact it is an ancient natural remedy, famous for its virtues. Even before being used in herbal medicine, thewild fennelit is used in the kitchen.
What is used of wild fennel in the kitchen? You are spoiled for choice! You can use the young shoots, the outer sheath, internal parts of the stems, the more tender parts, the still un-hatched leaves and buds, the leaf petioles and the hatched leaves. The younger leaves (not yet hatched) can be used raw in salads or cooked, to flavor soups, omelettes, sauces or to use as a spice on meat and fish dishes.
Those that commonly define themselveswild fennel seedsin fact, they are botanically godsfruitsto all effects. The seeds ripen gradually, they are collected by shaking the umbrellas of the flowers, taking care to place a paper bag well opened under the umbrellas. The seeds are used as a spice for a wide range of dishes.