Pages Navigation Menu

How to Harvest Fennel Pollen

How to Harvest Fennel Pollen

I first discovered fennel pollen in Italy as an ingredient for Italian porchetta. Fennel is a wonderful, slightly licorice-tasting herb that is used in many cuisines. If you enjoy Italian sausage on pizza, more than likely it had fennel seed in the sausage.  Fennel comes in many forms to use in cooking. Fennel seed, bulb, and fronds all come from the vegetable bulb form of fennel. You see the bulbed forms in the grocery stores in the produce section.

Fennel pollen is harvested from the bulbless fennel herb plant and is a perennial. In California, it grows wild and yes, I have been known to sneak some home in my suitcase. When we lived in Houston, I started bulbless fennel from seed and it did reasonably well. The plant needs a lot of sun and it did not particularly seem to like the humidity. But here in Colorado, the plants love the warm, arid climate and the dry days and cool nights that Colorado offers. For the last three years, my plants have thrived in 14 inches of water per year and pretty sorry soil and returned in the spring.

I was quite surprised at how much bees love the pollen. I am guessing in inner-loop Houston there were just not that many bees, but here in Colorado, there were bees of all shapes and sizes harvesting the pollen, packing it in their leg pockets and scurrying off to their hives.

Flowering here begins around late June, early July. The initial heads are the largest. Once harvested, the subsequent heads are smaller but still offer ample pollen. Yes, I do feel a bit guilty harvesting pollen from the bees but I do have lavender and plenty of other perennials to keep them happy.

I have tested several methods to harvest the pollen and recommend a couple of options.

How to Harvest Fennel Pollen

Dry-hanging

  1. Cut the flowers with long stems and tie several stems in a bunch.
  2. Place center down into a paper bag (preferably white so you can see the pollen as it falls into the bag) and tie the stems into the top of the bag.
  3. Allow the flowers and stems to dry.
  4. Gently shake the bag so more pollen falls into the bag. The pollen is generally like fine, yellow sand.
  5. When you feel you have shaken off as much pollen as possible, transfer the pollen to a small container.

This is a very time-intensive process but it works. It may take several weeks for the flowering stems to dry, so patience is a virtue with this method.




Dehydrating and Sifting

This is my preferred method for harvesting pollen. I have continued to fine-tune the process so, in my humble opinion, this is the quickest method and you can harvest larger volumes of pollen. It’s a little laborious with the sifting, but once the sifting is done, the project is done and you are ready to cook with this wonderful version of fennel.  You will two sieves – a coarse sieve and a fine sieve. You will also need two bowls and or some parchment paper.

  1. Initially, harvest your pollen flowers with long stems.
  2. Cut the flower buds off and place on your dehydrator.
  3. Dehydrate the flowers on your “herb” drying setting. This may vary based on your dehydrator. Mine is around 95 degrees. It’s usually a nice, low temperature so your herbs don’t crisp up too fast.
  4. Dehydrate the flowers until all moisture is gone and the flowers are no longer soft. Generally, I run the dehydrator overnight – about eight hours.
  5. Transfer about two handfuls of the flowers to the coarse sieve. Gently press on the flowers and shake the pollen into a bowl or onto a parchment paper.
  6. Transfer the first sieved flower pollen into the fine sieve and press and shake into a second bowl or parchment paper.
  7. The first pass will be very fine and first quality pollen. I tend to use that pollen for sprinkling on finished entrees.
  8. I repeat the process with the same flowers to sift for a coarser grade.
  9. Remove any stems that may have come through the sieve into the bowl or parchment paper.
  10. Store in a tight container.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Want to get more veggies in your diet?

Print Friendly

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Organize It Kitchen

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This