It was an unusually cool day in July when the sky burst open and showered the Bay Area hills. This was exactly the opportunity I was looking for. For weeks I had been scouring the Bay Area for fennel pollen only to come across fennel in areas wrought with pollution, even as far as a quarter mile off of the freeway in San Francisco, the fennel plants would be covered in a fine black dust. Yet it was everywhere, teasing me with its abundance.
I went on one walk that led me to a field where I ran into a coyote devouring a red tailed hawk, but little fennel. I went on lengthy drives only to find that fennel tends to only grow at certain elevations before you can’t find it at all. Finally one day I took a road following a creek and hit the golden jackpot. Along the side of the road was fennel that towered over my head and was bursting with clean, damp, blossoms. I snipped the most prolific ones then put the bunch into a paper grocery bag in my car and headed home.
Once home I tied the bunch together with a rubber band and stapled it to the top of the inside of the bag. Every few days I would rattle the bag and hear more of the pollen fall to the bottom of the bag. When it appeared that no more of the pollen was going to be willingly released I squeezed the bunch and the pollen came rushing down.
When it was all said and done I ended up with close to a quarter cup of the aromatic powder that I will inevitably use in upcoming recipes.