How to Trim a Fennel Bulb


No matter how you plan to prepare it, trimming fennel is the first step you’ll need to take to create the fennel dish of your dreams. If you’ve never worked with fennel before, it might look a little intimidating. The feathery bits at the top are called fronds. Those fronds are attached to the stalks, which attach to the bulb. The bottom of the bulb may be tough and slightly dirty in comparison to the greenish-tinged whiteness of the bulb itself. That part is called the base. Luckily, it’s easy to trim -- and to cut fennel.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Rinse the fennel under cold, running water and place it on the cutting board.

  • Cut the stems off with the knife. Unless your bulb of fennel is unusually large, you can usually cut off all the stems at once, with one sweeping motion. Discard the stems and fronds or save them for decorating your finished dish or using in soups.

  • Cut off the base. This will be slightly more difficult than cutting through the stems, but not by much. Be firm, but don’t force the blade through. Don’t cut too high into the bulb, or you’ll make it more difficult to cut the bulb later for cooking.

Tips & Warnings

  • The fronds and stems of fennel have a stronger taste than the bulb, and can sometimes have a rather woody texture. Try them and see if you like the taste and texture. If you do, they’re perfectly safe to eat. Many people don’t find them to work as readily for cooking purposes as fennel bulbs.
  • If you dislike the slightly stringy texture of the outer layers of your fennel bulb, you can trim it further using a vegetable peeler. The texture of fennel is similar to celery, including the strings. Unlike celery, it’s relatively smooth and much easier to peel.
  • It’s fine to leave a small bit of the stalks on the fennel bulb when you trim it. Unless your recipe specifically suggests you leave them on, you should cut off most of your fennel’s stalks.

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  • Photo Credit Olha_Afanasieva/iStock/Getty Images
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