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Let's talk about: fennel

A decade or so ago, I was jealous about bartenders in the US and a bit less to them in the UK. Germany wasn't in this time well served with new products for the bar.

Then I came to Dubai - and learned, that it wasn't that bad in Germany.
Even today, there are a lot of limitations, when it comes to availabilities of products in the UAE.

But on the other hands, I have learned a lot: limitations are fueling your imagination and creativity and if I would have stayed in Germany, I don't think, that I would have become the same bar-person, I am today...

There are a lot of ingredients in the kitchen, we usually oversee. One of them I would like to play around today: fennel.

Fennel seeds to be exact. Sure, you could mess around with the fennel bulb - juice it [after that you might want to agar-agar clarify it...] - but spices are so much easier to work with - and sometimes the result is even better.

This is what google has to say about it:

  1. Fennel
  2. Fennel is a flowering plant species in the celery family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae. It is the sole species in the genus Foeniculum. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. Wikipedia
  3. Nutrition Facts
    Amount Per 1 cup, sliced (87 g)
    Calories 27
  4. % Daily Value*
    Total Fat 0.2 g0%
    Cholesterol 0 mg0%
    Sodium 45 mg1%
    Potassium 360 mg10%
    Total Carbohydrate 6 g2%
    Dietary fiber 2.7 g10%
    Protein 1.1 g2%
    Vitamin A2%Vitamin C17%
    Vitamin D0%Vitamin B-60%
    Vitamin B-120%Magnesium3%
    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
    To be honest, I have no clue, what I haven't messed around fennel seeds much earlier. It just didn't came to my mind.

    What I did today was making a Fennel & Celery Seed Soda. 
    The soda was really focussed on fennel - and the next time, I will definitely leave the celery seeds completely out of it.

    I used two tea spoons of fennel seeds [and a pinch of celery seeds] and crushed them between my fingers [next time I will use a spice mill; it is quite uncomfortable and the seeds are quite pointy]. I put them into a cup and added boiling water over it, covered it and let it cool down entirely.
    Then I fine strained it [I used my Büchner funnel set up - which is really fast], added 120 g of white sugar and dissolved the sugar [stick blender]. I added this syrup to my soda plus, added a pinch of salt and filled up the container with a few ice cubes and ca. 1l of water [everything supposed to be 1200 ml/g].

    Charged it with two CO2 bulbs and shook it. Depressurized it after CO2 saturation time and just added citric acid water until it had the right acidity. Yummy.

    Now this soda is definitely great on its own! It is a grown up soda, natural but great flavor - a bit like an alcoholfree pastis. The fennel lends this drink a very bright aroma, fennel is so much brighter than its relative anise it is just really nice and refreshing!
    A bit gin is though what the soda really needs. I only had the super-savory GinMare and while I think it tasted good, I thought a more floral gin will taste far better. 
    It was between a pastis and soda and something with akvavit... the gin gave it a very complex flavor and the anise-like botanicals really shined.

    I really like this drink, though am not sure, if I rather would opt to make a syrup [without citric acid, dilution and C02]. Then I would make an awesome Tom Collins out of it and the lemon would give a bit more freshness and "sunniness" to it. For sure I will try.

    For now, you really should start to try out fennel. It is extremely easy to work with, very inexpensive and delivers amazing aromas, which you could really need in mixology!


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