Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wild Fennel Pollen

The weather has been so beautiful this week, perfect for a hike and perhaps some foraging. I contacted HM, my foraging expert. She was game, and said that late August is the best time to harvest wild fennel pollen.

We headed straight for a trail far away from any streets. As we walked along the trail, we found a few plants here and there and had fun balancing precariously on some rocky slopes to get the flowers. I was happy when we came across a group of five plants. HM kept saying that she was sure there was a big patch 'just a little further, just a little further'

The path became shaded by some large trees and I started thinking that we should head back to the sunnier part of the trail, just then, we turned a corner and there it was -- El Dorado. A patch of at least sixty plants! HM threw up her hands and said "see I told you!" We laughed as we thought about the last hour we had spent balancing on hills and cliffs just to get to one or two plants.

After gathering about two gallon sized bags worth of the clusters, we headed over to Pagan to chow down (of course) on some Burmese food as a reward for our hard work. That night, I picked through the stems, then dried them gently in the oven for a couple of hours. At that point I needed a quick way of separating the pollen from the flower clusters. I shook them in a big paper bag (a la shake n' bake) then sifted the dust through strainers. I understand why this stuff is expensive, it takes quite a while to sift out everything except for the fine pollen. A few hours sifting the clusters into finer and finer mesh sieves, I ended up with about two spice jars worth of this beautiful super fragrant golden green dust.

Despite the amount of time it took to process the flowers into usable pollen, this was fun and now I have my very own wild fennel pollen.

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