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Jul 13, 2009 12:50 PM

Fennel Pollen

My fennel plants have hosted many yellow swallowtail caterpillars this year, but now they are bolting and it's time to cut them down. But first, should I harvest the pollen? Has anyone else done this? If so, do you just shake the flowers into a bag? Is it worth it or am I better off waiting for seeds? Also, does anyone know if the pollen and seed from bronze fennel is inferior to green? I know the fronds don't taste quite the same and the plants don't form bulbs -- that's why I ask. Thanks.

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  1. Yes, harvest! My partner and I take trips out into the country every year to harvest the pollen. It's good stuff, and worth more than its weight in gold.

    You sort of need to manhandle the flower heads in order to release the pollen. Hold the flower heads over an envelope or jar, then rub. They'll come off.

    My bronze fennel plant never produced viable pollen OR seeds, so I can't tell you if it tastes any different.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mudster

      YELLOW Swallow tails?, Oh you must be on the West coast (Over here on the East the swallotails that eat our fennel are black) Bou you must have had a LOT of fennel if it hosted "many" and there still something LEFT to bolt, mine are always eaten right down to the ground. If I were in your place I'd go for the pollen but that's consdiering the fact that I have never had geat luck getting my fennel to seed (then again since I put all moy hope in trying to grown Chinese fennel so manybe the seed is just lousy.

      1. re: mudster

        Would you all please 'splain to me the excitement over fennel pollen? I've only had it once - it was sprinkled over a cheese plate, along with some honey, which I suppose was meant to be some sort of circle-of-life/food transformation thing. My main impression of it was that it was gritty; I didn't get a whole lotta flavor. I'd like to know what the buzz is about (sorry, can't resist the pun).

        1. re: gimlis1mum

          Perhaps what you had was old and/or poorly stored. I have a jar of fennel pollen that I purchased over a year ago, and it is still quite potently flavored.

      2. Harvest both it's totally worth it! Take the flowers only for the pollin, best to use scissors and cut over a large piece of white paper (away from any breezes) because the pollins and petals go all over, you can then wrap the paper to a funnel and transfer to a container to dry. Then when the other flowers you didn't harvest are ready just shake the seeds in to a bag to plant for next season or use in your kitchen spice cabinet. Both area great for cooking and teas, etc.. Pollin is your choice, save some of both and taste the difference i'd say.

        1. Just the flowers, picture from Euphro's moblog

          1. Just for the record, it's the PETALS you will be collecting, not the "pollen" . I think the fennel pollen thing was cooked up by chefs who wanted a more exotic sounding ingredient. Pollen grains are almost invisible to the naked eye.