Fennel is a diverse herb that is used around the world. Every part of the fennel plant can be eaten, but the seeds are particularly good. They work great in salads, breads and can even be crushed and steeped into fennel tea. Here are some tips on how to harvest fennel seeds so you don’t miss out on this delicious part of this amazing herb.
WHEN TO HARVEST
Fennel seeds should be harvested as soon as they turn from green to brown on the stalk. This usually occurs in late summer, but keep an eye on them to ensure you harvest them as soon as they are ready. Otherwise, it is likely they will fall off the plant and be scattered by the wind.
STEPS TO HARVEST
First, cut each seed head off of the fennel plant. Handle them gently so you don’t lose any seeds in the process.
Place seed heads in a paper bag. Give it a good shake. This will knock free and catch the loose fennel seeds.
Hold each seed head over a bowl and dislodge the remaining seeds with your fingers.
You can also let the seed heads dry in a paper bag for a few days or up to 2 weeks and then the seeds should come loose with no problem. Be sure to poke ventilation holes in the bag and hang it in a place with good air circulation.
Once all fennel seeds have come loose, separate them from the stems and other plant matter.
DRYING FENNEL SEEDS
Fennel seeds should be dried before eating. They can be set out on a drying screen in a warm, well-ventilated space for a few days and this should do the job.
You can also dry your fennel seeds in the oven. Set the oven to the lowest temperature. Scatter the fennel seeds on a cooking tray. Use a piece of parchment paper so the seeds don’t touch the metal and burn. Place them in the oven on the top rack and turn the oven off. They should dry in 5-10 minutes.
Fennel seeds should be kept in an airtight container and then stored in a cool, dark place. This will ensure they keep their flavor for months to come.