10 Things to Know About Fennel

With its bulb and leafy branches, fennel is much more versatile than you might think. With its aniseed flavour, this cousin of celery is just as delicious cooked or raw, in salads or braised dishes. Learn more about this vegetable that will charm you with its freshness and delicate sweetness.

1. Fennel Anatomy

We primarily eat the bulb, the bulge at the base of the long stalks (also edible, but tougher). The leaves are feathery and delicate served as herbs, while the small bouquets of yellow flowers leave aromatic seeds behind.

2. Storing

Remove the stems and wrap fennel in plastic wrap. It will keep up to a week in the fridge. But, the more it ages, the more it becomes fibrous and its flavour fades. For this reason, freezing is not recommended.

3. Mediterranean Diet

Not found regularly on our plates, fennel comes from the Mediterranean, where it is very popular. The Italians are the biggest consumers of this vegetable, which they call finocchio.

4. Intimidating Bulb?

You’re not sure how to use it? Visit to find recipes with fennel.

5. What To Buy

Choose a bulb that is firm, fragrant, white and blemish free. Smaller fennel is more tender than larger ones.

6. Black Licorice

Crunchy and slightly sweet, fennel is known for its anise flavour, reminiscent to black licorice. It is sometimes wrongly called “anise” or “dill.”

7. Spice

Fennel seeds are not bitter. They go well with fish, poultry, white meat, vegetables, alcohol, dessert and sweets. In Indian and Pakistani restaurants, instead of mints, they offer fennel seeds coated in sugar to aid digestion and refresh your breath.

8. Raw

Cut into quarters, it is served as a raw vegetable. You can also chop it to add to salad (a finely sliced medium-sized bulb provides around 625 ml/2 ½ cups). Mix raw fennel with orange quarters, some black olives, thin slices of red onion, and drizzle with the olive oil or vinegar of your choose… A classic combination filled with freshness. Rediscover it in salad, with cucumber, mayonnaise and pesto to accompany a salmon fillet.

9. Cooked

Grilled on the barbecue, roasted in the oven, steamed or gratinated, fennel takes on a whole other personality and becomes an extraordinary vegetable side dish. Children can even like it, if it loses its anise taste.

10. Allergies

Do your eyes and throat sting after eating fennel? Does your nose run and you sneeze? You may have oral allergy syndrome. People allergic to pollen, especially birch pollen, can also be sensitive to a protein in fennel. Vigilance is required, because the symptoms can get worse.

Hélène Laurendeau

A nutrition and health enthusiast who loves to share: this description fits Hélène Laurendeau to a tee. She has been active for more than 25 years in the media and communications field. Nutritionist, host, columnist, author and speaker, Hélène holds a Bachelor degree in Nutrition and a Master degree in Epidemiology. She has spread her knowledge alongside Ricardo every week since 2005, as part of his daily show broadcast on ICI Radio-Canada Télé, as well as in Ricardo magazine, where she pens the Bien se nourrir (Eating Well) column.