Many months ago back in the height of summer, I set off down the street to pick some wild fennel, which grows in my neighborhood. It wasn’t the first time that I picked some of this fragrant plant, but this time I went out more than once and brought home a few big bundles. I was on a quest to harvest fennel pollen and I knew from my previous attempts that you need more than you think to end up with an amount you can actually do something with.
Fast forward to yesterday when I finally decided to get the pollen off the branches. I’ve had this big pile of dried stalks sitting on parchment paper in my office (I also have tubs of olives brining in there) since July. They’ve been dry for a long time but I just couldn’t seem to bring myself to attack them.
I set up a little area on the floor and quickly realized that I was making a mess and moved the operation outside onto the patio. There I was leaning over the stalks trying to shake the pollen off. It’s not as easy as you might think and I now know why fennel pollen is so expensive to buy. I was out there for what seemed like forever, crushing the little yellow flowers onto a piece of parchment. As you can see from my photo I still need to pick out some of the stems. Talk about tedious work…
The first time I did this I ended up with about two teaspoons, at most. This time I have about 1/4 ounce. I’m thrilled and am thinking of how I’ll use it. Tonight we’re having Chicken with Fennel and I just may sprinkle a little of this fairy dust over it. I know for sure that I will use it on my next Porchetta roast which may be just around the corner. Imagine the panini we’ll have with the leftovers!
I’m already thinking of next summer’s harvest. Want to come over and help? I promise to feed you afterwards.