When I look in my bathroom mirror I can see the reflection of huge wild fennel plants growing on the hill behind my house. There they are with their yellow flowers swaying gently in the wind. I made my first venture out to collect fennel flowers this week with thoughts of drying and them and having my very own stash of fennel pollen, for free!
You can purchase fennel pollen if you can find it, but it’s pricey (Zingerman’s some times has it for $30 for 1.5 oz). I have an unlimited supply of flowers at my disposal, however once the flowers have dried, it’s sort of a tedious task to separate the pollen from the plant. Last year I had them laid out on cardboard in my office, waiting for them to dry. When I finally got around to the task of shaking the pollen off the plants it ended up taking a lot longer than I expected. Obviously it was worth the trouble because I’m doing it once again.
Fennel pollen is some pretty incredible stuff. Mix it with some salt and sprinkle it on a chicken that you’re going to roast. It’s amazing on pork, in fact it’s a match made in heaven. Whenever I walk by my office there’s a wonderful scent of fennel wafting by and I can’t wait until it’s time to harvest the pollen. I think I should go out and pick some more. My only regret is that I’m not in a field in Tuscany snipping off the flowering buds.