What Does Fennel Taste Like? How To Prepare, Store & Use It

what does fennel taste like

The best way to find out what anything tastes like is by trying it out by yourself firsthand.

What Is the Flavor of Fennel?

Its flavor is like that of anise. Anise is ubiquitous in Mediterranean and Asian cooking, like star anise.

Some even describe its flavor to be like licorice, an extract of licorice roots

What Is the Taste of Fennel?

Fennel has a sharp taste. It is a very mildly sweet kind like celery and onion and has a slightly bitter taste. This makes fennel such a unique and polarizing ingredient.

Tip 1 : If you caramelize fennel, it becomes sweeter and more pronounced.

Tip 2 : Fennel bulbs can be sliced thinly and added to salads to boost the fennel flavor.

Tip 3 : Fennel bulbs should always be sliced thinly. It makes them easier to chew.

Tip 4 : Toasted and crushed fennel seeds can be added to boost the flavors of fennel dishes.

Fun Fact : Although similar to onions in many ways in terms of appearance and uses, fennel is more related to carrots.

Fennel is a plant that has a wide range of uses. It is considered a vegetable, spice, and herb as well. It has a bulbous base with sprouts like that of onions sprouts. These sprouts have leaves that look similar to dill. Every part of this plant has a use in the culinary world, and let us begin with that:

  • The bulb: The bulb of the fennel plant can be eaten both cooked and raw. It is usually sliced very thinly and often used in stir fry, fennel salad, etc.
  • The stalk: The stalks of the fennel plant are often too fibrous, so they are used in making stocks, kind of like celery. 
  • The flowers: The flower and its pollen are harvested, dried, and used like saffron. And she was considered to be a delicacy.
  • The seeds: The seeds are often used whole or ground to a powder as a spice.

Almost every part of this plant is edible, even the roots. Still, I talked about only the common ones for simplicity’s sake.

Related Post: What Do Beets Taste Like

How to Tell if Fennel Has Gone Bad?

If you see any of these signs, your fennel has gone bad or will go bad very soon.

  • External damage.
  • Fungal or mold growth on the surface.
  • Soft and mushy
  • Discoloration
  • Off or bad smell.
  • Bugs inside the fennel.

If you see these signs, it is best to discard and throw away the fennel. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Now let us take a look at how to store fennel.

How to Store Fennel? How Long Does Fennel Last?

This depends on how you wish to store them and how long you want them to preserve them.

Without Refrigeration or Freezing

  • Fennel bulbs and stalks can be stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Let them stay in a cool, dry, and dark place.
  • The seeds can easily be stored in airtight containers or resealable bags for 2-3 years.
fennel kept with ice
Image credit: Mokjc, Shutterstock

With Refrigeration or Freezing

  • Fennel bulbs, stalks, and leaves can be refrigerated for 1-2weeks depending on how old they are. Place them in your fridge; you don’t even need zip lock bags or airtight boxes.
  • You can also freeze fennel by slicing them and placing them in zip locks.

Tip 1 : Fennel doesn’t need to be thawed if you wish to cook them.

Tip 2 : You can save space by storing fennel with other vegetables and spices.

How to Prepare Fennel?

Follow these steps to prepare fennel:

  • Clean and wash the fennel.
  • Dry them off with a kitchen towel
  • Chop off the stalks.
  • Remove the other layer of the bulb.
  • Next, according to your recipe, cut the bulb.
  • If the recipe requires diced, then dice the fennel. 
  • For grilling, cut the fennels a bit thick.
  • Mandolines should be used to make thin slices of fennel.

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How to Use Fennel

Fennel can be used in countless ways to make delicious and mouth-watering dishes.

Dishes starting from salads, soups, and pasta to even fast food like sandwiches, pizzas, and hot pockets are just some examples.

Fennel-flavored desserts and drinks are also quite common because of their polarizing and anise taste.

How Can You Substitute Fennel?

Like I said earlier, fennel is a genuinely unique ingredient as there is nothing like it. Some consider celery a substitute for fennel, but it isn’t a proper substitute. On the other hand, some also believe onion to be a substitute. Onions can be an excellent way to hide a lack of fennel. Still, as I said earlier, no other ingredient can be a substitute for fennel, but celery and onions are the closest. 

You may also like: How to Store Radishes

To Conclude

Much like its name, fennel is a fun ingredient to cook with. Its flavor and aroma can boost any dish added and take it to a whole new level. Its wide range of uses makes it a truly unique ingredient. If you haven’t tried it yet, I hope reading this has given you the encouragement you needed to try it out.

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