Author Topic: fennel pollen harvest  (Read 2489 times)

Offline tinysar

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fennel pollen harvest
« on: March 09, 2012, 06:41:12 AM »
So after examining close-up pictures of "fennel pollen" (at least, the retail stuff like this: http://www.pollenranch.com/fennel-pollen-spice.html & http://www.igourmet.com/shoppe/prodview.aspx?cat=Salt+Spices+and+Extracts&subcat=Spices&prod=4339&name=Fennel+Pollen&cf=usp_ListProducts_Sel&cprod= ), I've decided that it is actually the fennel flowers. Of course, the flowers are tiny, yellow and fuzzy-looking, so it's an understandable misnomer. It's also something of a relief, because I went a-foraging a few days ago to a patch of wild fennel. I harvested around 50 smallish 'heads' of flowers, then left them to dry overnight on a big paper bag, as suggested on this website: http://fleaabouttown.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/free-fennel-pollen.html.

Next day, I examined the yield - it was ridiculous, about enough to cover my fingernail! Then, on closer examination, it didn't even seem to be pollen. Now admittedly, I don't have a microscope or even a magnifying glass, but my eyesight is pretty good, and this tiny pile of yellow looked more like tiny little fennel-flower petals to me. So, with that decided, I went about detaching the rest of the flowers. Many came off just by rubbing them between my fingers, and I ended up attacking some of the more stubborn heads with nail scissors. The yield was about 2 tablespoons.

I may go back and have another go using the "fresh harvest" method, and see if that yields any more actual pollen.

But in the meantime, I have my (no doubt pollen-rich) fennel flower-buds. They're lovely. Very sweet, and a strong, lingering fennel-oil flavour, with none of the "grassiness" of fennel bulb/leaf, and none of the woodiness of fennel seeds (though as others have said good-quality, freshly-ground seed would be the nearest substitute). I plan to use some on my next chevre.

Also, if anyone in Australia is unable to source this ingredient - well, first I would suggest looking in the nearest open space beside a railway track, as they grow feral along every rail line within a few hundred km of Sydney, and also along roads. Be quick though, as the wild fennel will start to go to seed soon. And if you still can't find any and have some cheese project that requires it, PM me your address and I'll post you a spoonful. According to other forum members, a teaspoon is enough for ~500g of chevre, and you would use even less for any kind of aged cheese, so that should go a long way. Only while stocks last!


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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 10:25:15 PM »
Nice! You fortune for you!

Offline anarch

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2012, 02:43:31 PM »
Interesting, because those pictures you linked to, are indeed the little dried flowers, not the pollen, but it is labeled as such.  There is definitely pollen in there, but it isn't pure pollen.  I just did some looking around and it appears that this is how it is sold, with the little dried flowerlets along with the pollen itself.

I find it interesting because I collect pollens from many species as a part time job, but the pollen we collect and sell is processed to be extremely pure, like dust in the end. 

Anyways, we always pick flower heads/cones then dry them on brown paper sheets in a greenhouse until the pollen drops out, then filter the pollen out and crush the remaining flowerheads to get it all out. 

Offline Tomer1

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2012, 07:52:14 PM »
Does it have the same anis charecter?
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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2012, 09:28:32 PM »
Looks just like the stuff I buy



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Online Boofer

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2012, 12:51:34 AM »
Looks just like the stuff I buy


I can almost make out what that picture is.  ::)

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Offline tinysar

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2012, 04:12:16 AM »
Does it have the same anis charecter?

Yes, the flavour is quite similar to fennel seed (which shares chemical components with aniseed), but somewhat sweeter & more potent/lingering. Just as aniseed matches well with lemon, so I think fennel flowers would go well with any kind of sour cheese. Chevre is the classic, but I'm also thinking of some kind of "dukkah" mix to sprinkle onto labna - fennel, ground almond, sesame...

Boofer - the product is Pollen Ranch's fennel pollen. If you follow the first link in my original post and click on that thumbnail image, you will be directed to a page with a "view full-size image" option - this gives a larger, high-res photo which shows the flowers more clearly.

Quote from: anarch
Anyways, we always pick flower heads/cones then dry them on brown paper sheets in a greenhouse until the pollen drops out, then filter the pollen out and crush the remaining flowerheads to get it all out. 
Yes, I had considered sieving my harvest to get some pollen, but it doesn't seem like the pollen itself is very tasty. At least, the bits I tried were pretty flavourless. All those nice aromatic fennel oils are in other parts of the flower - not the pollen.

Online Boofer

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2012, 05:32:42 PM »
Boofer - the product is Pollen Ranch's fennel pollen.
Yeah, I know, I was just teasing Debi.  :)

I did follow your original link. Fascinating. I never knew about this. Does it really add flavor? Can you characterize what it brings? I believe I've seen scads of those "weeds" growing around but never paid them much attention.

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Offline DeejayDebi

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #8 on: March 14, 2012, 08:05:40 PM »
I did not find much flavor either just looked pretty in the cheese. Tea posted a recipe with it and loves the stuff so I tried it too.

Offline tinysar

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 02:40:56 AM »
Boofer - the product is Pollen Ranch's fennel pollen.
Yeah, I know, I was just teasing Debi.  :)

I did follow your original link. Fascinating. I never knew about this. Does it really add flavor? Can you characterize what it brings? I believe I've seen scads of those "weeds" growing around but never paid them much attention.

-Boofer-

I had never tried the flowers before either. Yes, they are VERY flavourful. I chewed up just one tiny-tiny flower, and could still taste it about 10 minutes later. To try to characterise it better, it is very similar to fennel seeds in that it contains a bunch of those yummy aromatics common to dill, fennel, anise, etc. However, while fennel seeds have a kind of woody, musky tone to them, the flowers have a much "cleaner", sweeter & stronger flavour. I would only use this spice sparingly, especially on aged cheeses, as it could easily overpower any mild-flavoured cheese or clash with a strongly-flavoured one. I haven't used any on cheeses yet (no milk!), but other people's reports of fennel/cheese experiments seem to back up the "less-is-more [tasty]" idea.
No idea if the commercial stuff is as strongly flavoured though - it probably loses flavour over time, and the wild fennel may be more concentrated to start with.


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Offline Pollenranch

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2012, 03:38:20 PM »
Hello

The flower and entire plant is rather full of flavor and aroma. While what we collect is the pollen and anther of the flower and then cleaned and separate, it is not the flower. The flower would just turn to dust if it was to be collected and dried. As with the rest of the plant it does not last very long in storage and can mold easily.

However the anther is the pollen before it has been pollinated and becomes a seed. Thus the soft texture and amazing flavor.
 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Stamen_%28PSF%29.png 

 We also sell our fennel pollen in Australia to TheTruffleMan. I wont spam his link however a Google search should get you to him.

Sincerely,

Pollen Ranch :)
Have you ever used a spice that changed your whole dish making it that much better? Fennel and Dill pollen will do that! Great on cheese and more!

Offline rreidiii

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Re: fennel pollen harvest
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 05:05:03 PM »
New to the Forum and figured I'd chime in. The guys from the Pollen Ranch are fabulous and extremely nice to deal with. I have used there pollen so they call it and love the stuff. Living in Southern California the Foeniculum vulgare grows everywhere and once you find a good stand of plants harvesting huge amounts doesn't take that long. I actually just strip the flowers from their stalks then spread them over news paper for a few days. I vacuum seal 1-2 ounce portions and freeze them so I always have a good supply.
Try the Pollen Ranch's Dill Pollen it is really good stuff too.