Are Fennel and Anise the Same? or Different?

BlogHer Original Post

Inspiration + Information, it's the two-ingredient recipe (ahem) for a great food blog, the magical pairing that lifts the best food blogs to the top of our must-read, must-subscribe lists. For anyone looking for both inspiration and information, one terrific source is The Perfect Pantry, the beautifully written Rhode Island food blog that takes on pantry ingredients, one ingredient at a time. Take this week, when it author, Lydia Walshin, stopped me in my tracks asking the question if 'fennel' and 'anise' are one and the same. Ha! The answer surprised me, even a long time cook and a lover of both.

First, there's the vegetable. Here's what the vegetable that I call fennel looks like.

Photo by Gaetan Lee on Flickr
Photo by Gaetan Lee on Flickr

Turns out that the vegetable is called both 'fennel' and 'anise'. Okay, cool! That I knew.

But then there's the herb. Lydia explains that 'fennel seed' and 'anise seed' both have a kind of licorice aroma and flavor, and both are related to parsley. That's where the similarity ends.

"Anise seed comes from Pimpinella anisum, a plant native to the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East but also now cultivated in Spain and Mexico, and easy to grow from seed in your own garden." (read more about anise seed at The Perfect Pantry)

"Fennel seed is not the seed of the plant that gives us fennel bulbs. ...fennel seed is actually the dried fruit of the sweet garden fennel that I plant in my herb garden." (read more about fennel seed at The Perfect Pantry)

Ha! And here I've been interchanging both fennel and anise (the vegetable) and fennel and anise (the herb). Thanks to Lydia, I've been informed and I love it.

Let's look around for some recipes that not only feature fennel/anise and fennel seed and anise seed but highlight their distinctive flavors.

Pinch My Salt ~ Creamy Fennel & Leek Soup
The Hungry Mouse ~ Fennel & Jicama Slaw

Nami-Nami ~ Fennel Seed Bread
Divine Ambrosia ~ Baked Fish with Potatoes & Tomatoes

Food Blogga ~ Italian Pizzelle Cookies
Sugar Creek Farm ~ Italian Sausage Seasoning

And you?
And you, have you written (or read?!) a post that was particularly informative? Leave a link recipe in the comments!

BlogHer food editor Alanna Kellogg learned about 'male' and 'female' fennel bulbs when researching the old Italian recipe for Insalata di Finocchio aka Fennal Salad.


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