You can grind seeds from the fennel in your garden to make ground fennel powder and you can dry your own fennel too for fennel spice.

How to Make Ground Fennel Powder from Home Grown Fennel

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You can grind seeds from the fennel in your garden to make ground fennel powder and you can dry your own fennel too for fennel spice. And you can grow other spices at home too!

fennel growing in the garden and jars of fennel seeds on the table with other herbs

What does fennel taste like?

Fennel has a little bit of licorice taste. It’s a little bit sweet. The bulbs of fennel are crunchy like celery and you can use them cooked or raw. They taste amazing in a salad. Just peel the outer layer off, cut off the tops and wash it. Then slice it thinly and put in stir fry or a crunchy salad.

pile of fennel bulbs

The tops or frawns can be cut finely and used to season dishes. They taste great in soup, stir fry, just about anything. It can even be used in dessert.

Fennel spice, dried fennel

If you dry the finely cut fronds in a dehydrator, you have fennel spice. You can use it just like the fennel spice you can buy at the store, but it tastes brighter and more flavorful.

Growing Fennel

Growing fennel to make ground fennel powder is super simple. You can buy starts or plant seeds. There are several fennel varieties. There are varieties that bulb and varieties that don’t. The varieties that don’t come in green and a bronze color. Bulb fennel is green.

Fennel is not picky about soil or watering. It’s fairly drought tolerant and heat tolerant.

Plant seeds or plants after danger of frost has passed. Plant 6-8 inches apart. We love to plant fennel for our butterfly garden. It attracts tons of black swallowtail butterfly caterpillars. We bring a few inside to observe and then release them after we watch them metamorphosis. It’s pretty amazing.

Harvesting fennel

Fennel will grow all season, but if you want to eat the bulbs, pull them before they get too big and tough to eat. When they look like a flat ball about the size of a baseball that’s smashed, you can pull them and enjoy them.

If you let the fennel keep growing, it will form seed heads. Wait until the heads get dry and start to break open. Once this happens, you can either cut the head off and dry it on a dinner plate or tie a paper bag over the head and let the seeds fall in the bag.

Dried seeds heads off of fennel plants
seeds from seed heads of fennel in hand

Once your seeds are all collected, you can grind them up in a blender or spice grinder. They are already dry.

ground fennel powder

Fennel seed vs anise seed

Fennel and anise are similar in flavor and are used in a lot of Italian and Indian cooking. They both taste licoricey but they grow differently. Anise seed is different than star anise which is spicy and warm tasting. Anise has a more pungent flavor. They can be used interchangeably.

Check out these amazing fennel recipes from Martha Stewart. Martha knows what’s up! 

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  1. For those among us that are growing our own fennel or looking forward to doing so., I offer this very valuable companion gardening advice.
    Fennel releases a chemical into the soil that will kill any other plant that shares the soil space. Therefore fennel has absolutely no companion plants.
    I grow my fennel in a pot on my kitchen deck with my other herbs to keep it isolated but nearby when cooking.
    Hopefully this will save someone else from planting beets next to fennel like I tried before looking up companion plants for fennel and finding there aren’t any. Living and learning, even in my 60’s.🥴

    1. That’s really interesting. I grow my fennel in my herb garden and my vegetable garden and haven’t had any problems with it at all. I have had sunflowers stunt my other plants, but not fennel. I am going to look into this further. It’s very intriguing. I haven’t tried it with any root vegetables, maybe that makes a big difference. But for sure we are always learning. The garden teaches every day! Thank you for your comment.

  2. I have collected a couple of cups of fennel seeds most of which I’d like to eat. My kitchen smells heavenly! However they are quite dusty. Is there a way for me to wash them?

    1. I wouldn’t think washing them would be a good idea, I am afraid they would mold. But you could wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub them around gently to dust them off.

  3. I started some fennel seeds because I heard the Umbelliferae family is good for attracting parasitic wasps, which helps maintain the population of the caterpillars that go after your tomatoes, cabbages, etc. I’m hoping it grows!