Fenugreek - Trigonella foenum-graecum

Fenugreek

Trigonella foenum-graecum

Fenugreek acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, anticarcinogenic, immunologic, and hypocholesterolemic. It helps in lowering extremely high blood sugar levels, increases milk production, boosts testosterone, reduces high cholesterol, encourages weight loss, and so much more.

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names: Bird’s Foot, Alholva, Fenogreco, Greek Clover, Greek Hay, Methi
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Seeds
  • Side Effects: Enjoy in culinary doses if pregnant
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About Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a leguminous spice used all around the world to magnify the sensory quality of the food. This clover-like herb is native to southern Europe, the Mediterranean region, and western Asia. It is an erect, loosely branched plant with trifoliate leaves and tiny white flowers that transform into pods upon reproduction, containing alkaloids and choline.

Fenugreek is employed as an ingredient in flavoring agents and spice blends in foods, tobacco, and beverages. Its extract is quite frequently used in the manufacturing of soaps and cosmetics. Apart from its culinary and commercial ventures, fenugreek has been used as a medicinal aid for centuries. Pharmacologically, it acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, anticarcinogenic, immunologic, and hypocholesterolemic. It helps in lowering extremely high blood sugar levels, increases milk production, boosts testosterone, reduces high cholesterol, encourages weight loss, and a lot more. It also aids in relieving the symptoms of cold, flu, sinusitis, asthma, constipation, pneumonia, and pleurisy.

A good load of active ingredients is responsible for the therapeutic efficacy of fenugreek. It contains steroidal sapogenins, furastanal glycosides, and alkaloids such as nicotinic acid, trimethyl coumarins, trigocoumarin, and trigonelline. 

Growing

Fenugreek should be started from late spring to early summer. This way, it gets adequate time to produce enough seed pods before the growing season terminates. Make sure that the soil is warm and there is no chance of frost soon. 

Fenugreek can be started both indoors and outdoors. Broadcast the seeds in average, well-drained soil that falls somewhere between neutral to alkaline pH. Provide your fenugreek seeds with at least 4 to 5 hours of sunlight exposure, the average temperature that ranges between 50 to 90°F, optimum water supply. 

Do not over-water fenugreek as this may cause hindrance in its growth. Also, fenugreek does not require any fertilizer instead, its nitrogen-fixating property nourishes the soil for the upcoming crop.   

The yellow pods of fenugreek contain seeds that appear in fall and germinate quickly when they are sown or dispersed. Within hardly 3 days, the seedlings sprout upon receiving its favorable conditions in optimum amount. 

Fenugreek grows quite rapidly. After 110-120 days of sowing the seeds, fenugreek gives out small white flowers that transform into seed pods after 30-35 days of flowering. The seeds sometimes shatter to disperse on their own but mostly they are domestically dispersed for the perpetuation of the life cycle.

 

Harvest

The entire fenugreek seed pod is harvested in mid-fall before they become capable enough to disperse. On the other hand, its leaves can be harvested any time of the year, during the day when all the remnants of dew have evaporated.

The fenugreek stems can be cut a few inches above the surface for the sake of leaves and the seed pods can be collected manually in a paper bag.

After harvesting the leaves can either be eaten fresh or sun-dried to make spice blends. Its seeds are also sun-dried and stored in an airtight container to preserve its strong aroma and flavor.

 

Usage

Fenugreek is one of nature’s oldest spices and medicinal herbs used in different cuisines and herbal medicinal preparations.

  • Tincture - Dried fenugreek seeds are macerated in high-proof alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks to achieve fenugreek tincture. Strain away the seeds and bottle up the tincture in a glass container for later use.
  • Tea - One teaspoon of dried fenugreek seeds is soaked in a cup of hot water for 15 to 20 minutes to yield fenugreek tea.
  • Decoction - One tablespoon of dried fenugreek seeds is added to water (200ml) with 1 tsp honey (and sometimes lemon juice). The mixture is decocted for not more than half an hour on low flame to form fenugreek decoction.
  • Salve - Fenugreek-infused oil, melted beeswax pellets, and a few drops of lavender essential oil are combined together to produce fenugreek salve.
  • Syrup - Dried fenugreek seeds are simmered in a sugar solution to formulate fenugreek syrup.
  • Infused oil - Dried fenugreek seeds are added to the carrier oil of choice in a glass bottle. The oil can be infused for 2 to 3 weeks on a sunny window sill to yield organic fenugreek-infused oil.