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Jan 4, 2014 03:02 PM

Difference between fennel pollen and fennel seeds?

I've been running into some preparations that call for fennel pollen, and I'm wondering if there's any significant different between that and just using fennel seeds.

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  1. Pollen is a powder. There would definitely be a textural difference, and I'd bet that the seeds may be a bit stronger in flavor than the pollen.

    1. also pollen is more difficult to gather, so the price is high.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rmarisco

        Sounds like something gimmicky then...

      2. The aroma and flavour of the fennel pollen is far more intense than the seeds. It's a richer more liquorice flavour..It is like a powder but the pollen grains are quite distinct so not a fine one.
        There is a huge price differential though. I can get fennel seeds at 6 pence a gram. Fennel pollen is £1 per gram, so nearly 17 times the price.

        18 Replies
        1. re: Paprikaboy

          PB - I'm sure you posted a while back about the pollen (stuck in my mind as I'd never heard of it) - is it readily available? I'm fine with seeds as I grow the plant around the garden - mainly decorative, for height - but there's always many seeds to be harvested.

          1. re: Harters

            H- I don't think it's that readily available. I wanted it for a xmas present for a friend last year. Went all over London and couldn't find it for love nor money. Ended up getting it online from Italy. It turned up after xmas so I got another present and kept the fennel pollen for myself.

            1. re: Paprikaboy

              Cheers, mate. I may pass if its that much of a faff.

            2. re: Harters

              If you grow the Plant you can collect some Pollen for your self. Granted it won't be much but enough to check it out.
              Here in N. California It grows all over the place so it is easy to gather while Walking or Hiking.

              1. re: chefj

                Ahha. Stupid of me - I hadnt realised this was "real" pollen - thought it was a preparation of some sort.

                1. re: Harters

                  Nope, you just cover the flower heads in a paper bag(plastic is too staticy) and give a good hard flick or two.

                  1. re: chefj

                    worth growing then, when it comes time to plant.

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I haven't grown fennel in large enough quantities, so I haven't tasted the pollen. Many chefs use it as a secret ingredient.

                      If I want a truly intense fennel flavor, I grind the seeds and put them through a sieve to eliminate the fibre. I highly recommend this, much easier than growing a half acre of fennel.

                      1. re: jayt90

                        This thread makes it sound as though fennel pollen is so exotic as to be unobtainable. It isn't. Twenty dollars buys an ounce from amazon; smaller sizes are available. I don't mean to diminish the idea of grinding the seeds - I think it sounds like a good way to use them but a poor substitute for pollen. Just spend the money and obtain the pollen if that's the effect you're going for.

                        1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                          It seems to be difficult to find an Amazon supplier who will ship to Canada. However the price is attractive, so I'll look in eBay for a supplier.

                          1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                            My original question refers to your statement that fennel seed is a "poor substitute for pollen"...what are the differences between the two that makes it such a poor substitute? I find no reason to go out of my way to order something off the internet for something that is more than 20 times the price of fennel seed not including shipping when it is just a more intense version of it

                            1. re: takadi

                              It is different in it taste. It is more floral and slightly sweet.
                              It is a little hard to explain really. Though a much more intense flavor than the Seed it is some how more complex and softer.It also does not have the woody earthyness that the Seed has.
                              That's what makes work so well in Dessert applications as well as Savory

                              1. re: chefj

                                Is the pollen more suitable for uncooked or cooked applications? Or are the flavors just different in each?

                                1. re: takadi

                                  Both though i prefer it sprinkled into/on finished Dishes.

                              2. re: takadi

                                Seeds are seeds. They're rich in oils and protein to make a new plant. Pollen is part of a flower. If you eat an edible flower, you won't think it tastes like a seed. Same with saffron -another flower component. It's much more expensive than crocus seeds and probably doesn't taste similar. Explaining what saffron tastes like isn't easy. But it doesn't taste like a seed. Better just taste for yourself. If you don't want to spend the money, just wait until summer and find a plant, and gather some pollen. Then you'll know.

                                Edit: About my suggestion to buy the pollen: I was responding to the suggestion to build a garden. An ounce of pollen would take a lot of gathering. That's a couple of hours of labor, easy. On the other hand I bought an ounce for 20$ a few years ago and used about half of it and now the flavor has lost much of its potency. A little goes a long way. The labor of saving myself 20$ just isn't worth it. Whether its worth $320/lb is another question entirely.

                                1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                  That's useful information about the potency. I'll plant a couple of rows this spring. I have heard that fennel and dill cannot be near each other because they will cross pollinate.

                            2. re: jayt90

                              How many are you cooking for? If it is you and a Friend or two a couple of Flower Heads is enough to sprinkle on a Dsh.