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Bronze Fennel Flowers
Inventory, 50 ct : 0
This item was last sold on : 02/06/21
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Bronze Fennel flowers grow in airy clusters at the top of upright, slender hollow stalks. The stalks emerge from a bed of frilly, dark green, purple, and bronze leaves, and the bright yellow flowers develop from a branching umbel at the top of the stalk that contains 20 to 50 flowers. Each blossom averages less than a centimeter in diameter and has a flat to slightly cupped shape with delicate petals covered in a dusting of golden yellow pollen. Bronze Fennel flowers have a tender, subtly crisp texture, an anise-like aroma, and a sweet, herbaceous flavor with licorice nuances reminiscent of fennel seed.
Bronze Fennel flowers are available fresh in the summer. Dried flowers are available year-round.
Bronze Fennel flowers, botanically classified as Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum,’ are tiny yellow blooms that grow on a perennial herb belonging to the Apiaceae family. The clustered, colorful flowers appear approximately 90 days after sowing, and home gardeners often plant the variety for its ornamental appeal. Bronze Fennel plants bear wispy, fern-like foliage with variegated purple, green, and brown hues, providing contrast against green landscapes, and the bright yellow flowers attract beneficial pollinators. In addition to its visual nature, Bronze Fennel plants also contain a similar flavor to common green fennel, and the entire plant is edible. Despite the blossom’s showy nature, Bronze Fennel flowers are one of the rarer elements of the fennel plant used for culinary purposes. Extraction of the flowers is tedious and slow, but the bright yellow blooms are valued for their sweet, anise-like flavor. Bronze Fennel flowers also contain bright yellow pollen that has become a prized culinary ingredient, incorporated fresh or dried as a finishing spice.
Bronze Fennel flowers have not been extensively studied for their nutritional content. The flowers, like the rest of the plant, are believed to contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and are a source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system. The flowers may also provide some minerals, including potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium.
Bronze Fennel flowers have a sweet, subtly citrusy, licorice flavor similar to the plant’s seeds and leaves and are best used fresh as a finishing element. The flowers can be removed in clusters from the plant and gently shook over a container to catch the falling pollen and petals. Once collected, the fresh blend can be sprinkled over soups, egg dishes, salads, and buttered toast, or it can be lightly rubbed over roasted meats and seafood dishes. Fresh flower petals are favored for their bright coloring and are also used as an edible garnish over main dishes, appetizers, and desserts. The flowers can be infused into oils to impart a warm, rich flavor, or they can be steeped into tea as a delicate, soothing beverage. Bronze Fennel flowers can also be dried and used similarly to the fresh petal and pollen mixture. The blend of dried petals and pollen is popularly scattered over roasted vegetables, rice, and pasta, mixed into sauces and jams, or incorporated into cookies, cakes, scones, and biscuits for added depth of flavor. Bronze Fennel flowers pair well with meats such as pork, turkey, lamb, and poultry, seafood including fish, squid, scallops, and shrimp, herbs such as mint, thyme, and oregano, and citruses including lemons and oranges. Fresh flowers should be used immediately for the best quality and flavor. Dried blends of fennel flowers and pollen will keep for 1 to 2 years when stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Fennel flowers have been traditionally incorporated into Italian cuisine for thousands of years. During the Italian Renaissance, spices were heavily relied upon to flavor culinary dishes. Many Italian families could not afford exotic spices such as black pepper, so they used plants that grew wild in their surroundings, such as fennel, to spice their meals. Fennel offered an aromatic, unique flavoring, encouraging local chefs to use all parts of the fennel plant to build on the licorice-like flavor. Fennel flowers were also crushed and sprinkled over cooked snails as a finishing flavor and color, and they were used as a bright topping over cream-based pasta to brighten heavy sauces. In the modern-day, the fern-like plant still grows naturally throughout the Italian countryside, and when the plants are in bloom, the yellow flowers are collected just after they open to capture peak freshness. In Tuscia, fennel flowers are frequently gathered for meat dishes to impart a sweet and savory taste with anise undertones. The flowers are sprinkled over roasted chicken and stewed rabbit, or they are mixed into homemade sausages with fennel seeds to deepen the distinct licorice flavor. In Puglia, the flowers are also infused into alcohol to make the spirit known as finochietto. This fennel-flower infusion is believed to act as a digestive aid and is a favorite beverage throughout Southern Italy. It is also a symbol of Italian summers, providing a refreshing, bright, and subtly grassy flavor as a reprieve on hot, sunny days.
Bronze Fennel is native to the Mediterranean. The exact origins of when this specific variety was first documented are unknown, but fennel varieties, in general, have been growing wild since ancient times. Fennel was eventually introduced into Northern Europe and Asia through trade routes and traveling armies. The plants have a hardy, sometimes aggressive, weed-like nature and can be easily naturalized once introduced. In the 17th century, fennel was brought to the New World by Spanish explorers for planting in new settlements. Today Bronze Fennel is commonly found growing wild and cultivated in home gardens in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, North Africa, and Australia. The flowers are not sold commercially, reserved to farmer’s market, specialty grocers, or wild foraging, but some flowers may also be present in fennel pollen mixes sold by online retailers.
Recipes that include Bronze Fennel Flowers. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Food & Wine||BBQ Ray Wing with Samphire and Bronze Fennel|