Monday, February 25, 2013

Fennel Pollen - A Culinary Adventure

Fennel pollen is known as spice of the angels in Tuscany cuisine.
A Wild Fennel Plant
In September of 2011, I planted wild fennel. It slowly grew 4 ft tall and in June of 2012 a few graceful flower stocks emerged but the plants didn't last through the hot summer.
A Flowering Fennel Bulb
In June of 2012, I left one of the fennel bulbs bolt and flower for pollen and seed saving. Over 7 months later it's still producing flowering side-shoots full of pollen.
Although the fennel pollen used in Tuscany cuisine is said to come from wild fennel, I didn't notice any difference between the wild fennel and bulbing fennel pollens.

 I've been harvesting fennel pollen at various stages. It doesn't detach from the flower heads very easily until it's dry. But when the pollen just begins to form seeds it's easy to remove.
Last week I harvested a lot of Suyo cucumbers and I had enough to experiment with different pickling recipes. I have a great recipe for
Citrus Pickled Onions
I modified it just a bit for the cucumbers and it was really ono.

Citrus & Fennel Pollen Pickled Cucumbers

2 cups of sliced cucumbers 
3/4 cup of citrus juice (I used 2 tangerines, 1 lime and 1/2 lemon)
1/4 cup of champagne vinegar
1/4 tsp of fresh fennel pollen
1 fresh bay or allspice leaf
salt and pepper (optional)

These refrigerator pickles are best when used within a week.

More information about fennel pollen:
Playing With Fennel
Edible Foraging in Hawaii - Fennel