Why you should harvest fennel pollen (and how to do it)

One foodie describes it as the spice an angel would sprinkle from its wings.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

Peggy Knickerbocker (true name) is an esteemed San Francisco-based food writer who has contributed to Gourmet, Saveur, Food and Wine, House and Garden, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Her take on fennel pollen is irresistible.

“If angels sprinkled a spice from their wings, this would be it,” she wrote. “I sprinkled a pinch of it on fish before grilling. I scattered a bit over roasted vegetables, and then I tried it on a pork roast. The effect, in every case, was positively transformative.”

Fennel pollen is a traditional food in the Calabria region of Italy. It has a honey-aniseed flavour, and I’ve found it lifts many dishes, especially chicken and fish.

You need just a pinch or two, which is good because each flower head yields about one-quarter of a teaspoon. Fennel is incredibly easy to grow and once planted, you’ll never have a shortage.


1. Choose a dry day

2. Snip off the flower heads when the flowers are open and pollen is showing

3. Push the heads into a paper bag with the stems poking out

4.  Tie the bag with string, then hang the bags in a cool, dry room for 1-2 weeks to dry

5. Once dry, give the bags a shake and the pollen will fall to the bottom of the bag

6. Store pollen in an airtight container; it will keep for several months

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NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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