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Force of Nature - Fennel Pollen

Friend & Burrell proudly partners with Force of Nature, an enterprise based in Romsey, a charming and historic town in the Daylesford/Macedon region of Central Victoria. Here, Jo Corrigan and her partner in cooking, foraging and life, Matt Donnelly, both former chefs and restaurateurs, having given up running a bustling Melbourne restaurant, now forage for, and grow, beautiful produce for supply to Victoria’s best chefs and cooks.

Among the many wonderful ingredients they supply and produce are a range of mushrooms, heirloom vegetables, black garlic, Espelette peppers and fennel pollen. It is the fennel pollen that is especially prized by Friend & Burrell and many of the chefs we work with.

Fennel pollen, akin to the “fairy dust” of the culinary world, is a spice adored by many of the chefs we supply for its sublime and complex flavour, which combines elements of sweet anise, citrus, and floral notes. The fennel plant flowers during the summer months and its pollen is typically harvested during late summer to early autumn.

Harvested during the plant's flowering stage, in late summer to early autumn, the separation of the delicate pollen from the flowers is a labour-intensive process requiring careful hand-picking of the tiny yellow flowers and their pollen-producing structures. Foragers need to be skilled and patient as they must collect the pollen while avoiding damage to the flowers.  The cleaned fennel flowers are spread out in a well-ventilated area with low humidity to allow natural air drying. The slow drying process helps retain the pollen's aromatic compounds and flavour. The collected pollen is sifted through a fine mesh screen to remove any remaining plant material or impurities. After sifting, it is carefully sorted to ensure that only the purest pollen is retained.

As an ingredient, fennel pollen is as versatile as it is unique. From its starring role in the renowned porchetta di Ariccia, the uses of fennel pollen extend to the full complement of other pork dishes, as well as a seasoning and a rub for seafood, poultry, or simply sprinkled on vegetables and salads. It has been used to great effect by scores of top chefs the world over, in ice cream and various other desserts and pastries. It is a sublime addition to cocktails, as many leading mixologists will attest. Given its intensity and rarity, fennel pollen is often used as a 'finishing' spice - a little goes a long way.

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Fennel Pollen

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