Fennel Pollen (Fiore di Finocchio) 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 are carefully spread on wide wooden boards lined with butcher paper in a well-aerated, dry room. The boards are then put beneath a protective net and left untouched in order to ensure 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 sifted to extract little leaves and twigs, then packed in large cotton bags to finish the drying process. When completely dry the pollen should have the heady aroma of anise, a golden-green color, and a crisp texture.
Add a magical twist when making vinaigrettes, salt rubs, stuffings and sausages. Fennel pollen and pork are a perfect combination. To preserve the essence of the fennel pollen, it comes packed in an airtight bag. It is adviseable to keep the pollen in an air-tight container once opened.