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26 responses to “Playing with Fennel”

  1. Christine @ Fresh Local and Best

    I’m kicking myself for never bothering to collect the fennel pollen that grows wildly along the hills in Sausalito when I had the chance. There were so many tall unrelenting stalks! I’ve never tried a dish with fennel pollen, but would sure love to see what the buzz is all about.

    My favorite way to prepare fennel is shaved thinly in the summers, and oven roasted in the winters.

  2. Phillip

    Fennel is supposed to be a favorite of the wild pigs, and I’ve even heard some native plants ecologists cursing it because it’s not only an invasive non-native, but it tends to bring pigs into new areas.

    Personally, I’ve always wondered if they’d eat enough to affect the meat quality (like deer or antelope in sage), but I seldom see much wild fennel in the areas where I pig hunt, so I haven’t found out first hand.

  3. Bill Bird

    Thanks for reminding me to plant some dill weed seed later today. It’s the only herb that I know of that will sprout from seed in the high heat of summer. It’s popping up everywhere right now — except in the places that I want it.

  4. Carolina Rig

    Grilled fennel is a favorite…used in a warm salad or with some fish.

    Raw in just about anything.

    Thinly sliced and ‘pickled’ like you’d pickle red onion. Killer on a sandwich…also nice with a diver duck pate.

    I wonder if I can get some ‘wild’ fennel sprouting up around here…

  5. Lara Alexander

    fennel pollen pasta? That sounds really really good. I like to cook some fennel bulb in butter and white wine, then add smoked salmon and some cream, for a simple pasta sauce.

  6. Ken albala

    Signor, Again we are on the same wavelength. Just made a salame with fennel pollen yesterday. It was actually an ingredient in the 16th century, Scappi used it all the time. Especially with pork. Gorgeous combo. Mangia!

  7. frances

    I love the way you describe your adventure with fennel! I use the bulbs often since I can buy the Italian bulbs. I prepare them fresh in a salad sliced with red onion and orange segments covered with an olive oil and lemon dressing with black pepper and very little salt. I stew them, julienned, in olive oil together with 2 or 3 chopped dried tomatoes. Very interesting flavor is the result. Also, cooked bulbs (I always put lemon juice in the water to help the taste come out) sprinkled with grated parmesan and baked in the oven, is a wonderful combination.

  8. Jessa

    Ever inspired by your delicious posts, I stumbled sleepily into my back yard this morning (pre-coffee, even!) to grab some fennel seed to toss into a pasta sauce.

    Ran smack-dab into a couple of gorgeous Anise Swallowtail caterpillars, who are now happily snacking fennel fronds in a giant bell jar where we can watch them turn into butterflies (and where the chickens can’t eat them). I love that the sheer abundance of fennel around here means I can share with the local wildlife and still have more than enough for myself!

    Thanks again for your recipe – I’ll be making fennel pollen pasta soon, I’m sure. It sounds delicious.

  9. Phillip

    Hank, we get a fair number of pigs here in the East Bay Hills, and plenty of fennel there, but I’ve been unable to find a hunting connection. The trappers put a pretty good dent on them around the state and regional parks (which cover most of the hills in my neighborhood), but I know there’s hunting to be had here.

    Kinda got my curiousity spiked up now…

  10. Delights and Prejudices » News Feed: July 30

    [...] Collect your own fennel pollen. [Hunter Angler Gardener Cook] [...]

  11. Jean

    Recently I made some tzatziki with fennel instead of dill. This went over very well.

  12. Brent P

    I harvested some fennel pollen last week. Put it in a plastic bag on my spice shelf. Big mistake. A few days later I opened it up to use some and the entire stash was moldy big time!! Any advice on drying the pollen so the wonderful aroma is not degraded? I’m sure I should have used a paper bag, but do you think air-drying is the way to go? Any help in this department would be appreciated…

  13. Nate @ House of Annie

    I wonder if it can be used on poached fish?

  14. Janine

    I used Golden Gourmet Pollen – Pork and Poultry Seasoning and Herbes de Provence 1880 Seasoning blend on our Christmas turkey. I ground the seasonings to a fine grind in my coffee grinder and added it to melted butter. We inserted the mixture under the skin of the turkey and rubbed the remainder on the exterior of the bird.
    This was an awesome combination and everyone praised the tenderness and flavor of the turkey.

  15. Bay Area Foraging with Hank Shaw

    [...] Fennel is another easy one. Fennel is native to the Mediterranean, but it was brought to California by Italian immigrants a century ago and has naturalized here. It is the same fennel you get in the store, only denser and more flavorful; it will not have big, fat bulbs, though. [...]

  16. Fennel Seed Twitter #SpiceChat Recap | Spice Guru Recipes & Tips Blog | TableFare the makers of SpiceCare

    [...] dusting of fennel pollen or powered fennel seed is also a nice touch on risotto, rice dishes and arancini. – [...]

  17. s. costello

    I am growing an ornamental fennel (in the Boston area) and its just starting to flower now and I was wondering if the pollen with be the same/similar?

    Since i do not have a lot of fennel, I would like to maximize the pollen so if I read you correctly I am just going to shake the pollen off but not cut the flower./?

    Will the same blossom produce pollen and a few days later yield a bit more?

    Lastly, will that same flower later produce seeds too? Thx!! Great article!!! sue

  18. debra q

    I love this website. I learned so much from you. I have only grown bronze fennel but am now going to try the wild kind.
    Thanks for the instructions for collecting the pollen. I refused to pay the price they wanted for it when I knew that there must be a way to do it myself.

  19. Ellen in Asheville

    Hank, do you know a way to keep fresh fennel seeds green? I found online a woman who grinds them up with sugar and keeps the fennel sugar in a jar, but no other solutions. Do they freeze well? I like the fresh so much better than the dried seeds. I let bronze fennel spread freely in my gardens… this year, quite a crop! I just used fully ripe seed heads as decor on tables at a reception featuring local foods, with small signs inviting people to try the seeds. I saw little children really enjoying them!

    LOVE YOUR RECIPES – am going to try some out before the weekend is over!

  20. Diana Berreman Davies

    Went out for a quick forage this frosty morning and scored a load of wild cabbage sprouts and some fennel seeds, still fat and soft. Have you ever cooked cabbage with fennel seeds? If so, was it good?

  21. Blue Plate Special: Wild Fennel

    [...] you live in on the West Coast, you can gather fennel pollen yourself,” says forager Hank Shaw, “The easiest way is to gather lots of fennel flower clusters and put them in a paper bag, [...]

  22. Bay Area Foraging with Hank Shaw

    […] Fennel is another easy one. Fennel is native to the Mediterranean, but it was brought to California by Italian immigrants a century ago and has naturalized here. It is the same fennel you get in the store, only denser and more flavorful; it will not have big, fat bulbs, though. […]

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