How to cook fennel
If purchasing from a store, most likely you will find the bulb separate from the fronds and stalk. The bulb can be thinly shaved and eaten raw in salads, or can be cooked by way of roasting, sautéing, braising, pickling, or grilling.
How to buy fennel
Look for fennel that has fist-sized bulbs free of markings, scratches, or browning. The smaller bulbs have a milder flavor and delicate texture. I prefer to buy fennel with the fronds still attached, as this is an indication of freshness. Bulbs that look wrinkly are old and should be avoided.
How to store fennel
Store in a container in the refrigerator with a damp tea towel up to a week, or upright in a container of water on the counter for a couple of days.
Bulb/Florence- grown for the bulb
Sweet- grown for the herb
Fennel is part of the flowering Apiacaea family that includes carrots and celery, along with herbs and spices such as cumin, dill, cilantro, and parsley. This extensive family is unique in that each plant has a few different uses, fennel being no exception. The flavor of the fennel is warm and akin to that of liquorice or anise. However, the flavor is not overpowering and can be a nice addition to other herbs and vegetables. The fennel bulb does have a core, but unless the bulb did not have suitable growing conditions that caused it to bolt, you can cook the core.
The fronds of fennel can be used as a garnishing herb, while the stalks and bulb make a wonderful treat cooked or raw. You can also buy fennel seeds in the spice section, which makes a great addition to herb and spice blends.