Fennel pollen has been a treasured ingredient in Tuscany for centuries. Its bright clean anise flavor gives life to the classic Tuscan fresh pork sausage, Finocchiona, named after this delightful herb.
Harvested carefully by hand, the flowers are placed in cloth bags to prevent moisture from collecting and creating mold. After harvesting the fennel flowers laden with pollen, they are carefully spread on wide wooden boards lined with butcher paper in a well-aerated, dry room. The boards are then laid beneath a protective net and left untouched in order to ensure that the pollen’s essential oils do not dissipate and lose their powerful scent.
After approximately 10 days the fennel is tested for moisture. The fennel pollen should slightly spring back when lightly pressed. At this stage it is not completely dry. The pollen is then sifted to extract little leaves and twigs, then packed in large cotton bags to ultimate the drying process. When completely dry the pollen should have a heady aroma of anise, golden-green color and crisp texture.
Fennel pollen and pork are a perfect combination: thick-cut grilled pork chops dusted with sea salt and fennel pollen. The pollen also makes the perfect delicate condiment for poached fish, such as sushi grade tuna, rolled in fennel pollen, seared at high temperature. Dust over fresh goat cheese for a magical twist to a perfect salad accompaniment. Use in making a vinaigrette, salt rubs, stuffings and sausages. Add the final and last dimension for a perfect Bucatini con le Sardeby dusting the dish with fennel pollen for an authentic Sicilian flavor.
To preserve the essence of the fennel pollen it is packed into an airtight bag. It is adviseable to keep the pollen in an air-tight container.