Harvest fennel leaf from time to time throughout the growing season. Use the fresh leaf when possible as the herb may lose much of the flavor when dried. The leaves may also be frozen for later use. Harvest the seeds in autumn. Seeds are fully ripe just as the color fades and the seed-bearing umbells turn from yellow-green to a light brown. Cut the brown umbell from the stalk and place it in a paper bag to dry in a warm room. Shake the dried seeds from the umbell and store them in tightly sealed, clearly labelled, dark-glass containers. Harvest the root late in the fall at the same time the stems are harvested as a vegetable. The root is generally less medicinally potent than the seeds.
Seed infusion: Crush 1 tsp–1 tbsp of the dried seed, add to 1 cup of unchlorinated water, fresh milk, or barley water, in a non-metallic pot. Bring to a boil; then steep, covered, for about 10 minutes. A standard dosage of the tea is two to three cups per day.
Root decoction: Add one ounce of the clean, thinlysliced dry root, or 2 oz of thinly-sliced fresh root, to 1 pt of unchlorinated water in a non-metallic pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain and cover. A decoction may be refrigerated for up to two days and retain its healing qualities.
Tincture: Combine half a cup of dried fennel seeds with 1 pt of brandy or vodka in a glass container. Seal the container with an airtight lid. Leave to macerate in a darkened place for two weeks. Shake daily. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth or muslin bag and pour into a dark bottle for storage up to two years. Dosage is 2–4 ml of the tincture two times a day.
Clare Hanrahan, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,