Fennel seeds come from the green fennel plant and have a pungent, spicy, aniselike flavor. Many recipes, including recipes for Chinese and Indian dishes, call for ground fennel seed as a spice. You can purchase fennel seeds that have already been ground or grind your own fennel seeds at home to save money and make just as much ground fennel as you need.
You don't need special equipment to grind fennel seeds in your kitchen. Place some fennel seeds in a plastic bag and lay the bag on a cutting board. Crush the seeds with a heavy kitchen object, such as a rolling pin or a meat tenderizer. Pound the fennel seeds until they are crushed to a fine powder.
Mortar and Pestle
A mortar and pestle is an ancient cooking tool that consists of a small bowl and a smooth instrument used to grind food. Create ground fennel with a mortar and pestle by placing a small amount of fennel seeds in the bowl. Push the pestle down into the bowl, pressing the seeds against the sides of the bowl and moving the pestle back and forth to grind the seeds until they become a fine powder.
Let a machine do the work for you and place fennel seeds in a clean electric spice or coffee grinder. Plug in the grinder, place the top on the unit and turn the machine on, letting the grinder work until the seeds are completely ground into a fine dust.
Once fennel seeds have been ground, the spice starts to lose its pungent flavor. To get the most fennel flavor, grind your own fennel, making just as much fennel powder as you need for a particular recipe. You can store fennel seeds in an airtight container in a dark place for up to two years, using just as many seeds as you need to make ground fennel for a dish.
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Leigh Good has been writing for magazines and newspapers for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in numerous print and online publications. Good has a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Georgia State University.