The fennel herb has burst into flower, its six foot tall stems waving gracefully in the breeze. I love its acid yellowy green colour at this stage, a contrast to the lush green of a few weeks ago when I was cutting the feathery leaves. Fennel is easy to grow and its leaves,stems, flowers, pollen and seeds are all useful culinary ingredients.
The leaves and fresh flowers are used in a variety of sauces and as a flavouring to fish. I use the dry stems on the barbecue as skewers or laid on top of the grill where its flavour permeates whatever you lay on top and also helps protect the food from burning. Fennel pollen is more expensive than saffron and is the latest foodie must have ingredient. Its seeds are edible fresh or dried, playing an important role in Spanish and Indian cooking or as a tea.
It’s easy to grow from seed and will come back and multiply year after year - I bought a bag of fennel seeds from an Asian grocer and shattered them on the ground a few years ago and now I have a forest. It self seeds easily so you’ll soon be giving away plants to your friends. If you grow dill (I don’t - it is the food of the devil) keep the two well away from each other as they cross pollinate easily and you end up with something that’s a weird mix of the two.