What is Fennel Pollen


What is Fennel Pollen?


Stacy Flinton

Fennel pollen is a type of pollen that is produced by the anthers of the female flower of the fennel plant. Fennel is a plant that has many medicinal and culinary uses, and it’s often called anise. 

Fennel pollen is the fine dust that comes out of the anthers of the fennel plants. 

This pollen is a natural food supplement that has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. 

It is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, and it also has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

As a really powerful antioxidant, fennel pollen is said to be helpful in the maintenance of healthy skin, hair, and bones. It is also said to help the immune system stay strong and may help the body fight against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

What Does Fennel Pollen Taste Like?

Fennel pollen is a particular type of pollen that’s often used in cooking. It is renowned for its very distinct aniseed flavour. 

The flavour of fennel pollen is aromatic and, on its own, is quite subtle, so it’s often used to impart other flavours or add a subtle layer of sweetness to food. 

It’s also a key flavour in many European and Middle Eastern dishes.

As a result, the flavour of fennel pollen can be a little divisive because of its earthy and sometimes strange undertones. 

Some people love it, while others think it tastes like dirt. 

The good news is that it can easily be disguised by combining with other intense flavours or by cooking it with other foods.

How to Use Fennel Pollen

Fennel pollen can be used in many ways, including as a food supplement or in beauty treatment. 

Fennel pollen was actually introduced to American cooks by Italian immigrants who planted the flowering plant in California. But how can you use it?

Meat Seasoning and Rubs

The sweet and earthy flavour of fennel is often paired with pork (such as porchetta), and it’s also great on roasted chicken before cooking.

It works particularly well when combined with oregano, dried chilli flakes, salt and black pepper for the ultimate Mediterranean meat rub.

Grain and Pulse Enhancer

Fennel pollen can be added as an earthy addition to grains and pulses such as chickpeas, bulgar wheat and couscous to add a deep earthy tone to plant-based dishes.

Pizza and Pasta Topping

Pasta and pizza dishes with robust flavours, such as puttanesca and arrabbiata sauces, can have fennel pollen added as a light topping to give an anise touch to the dish.

Soup Seasoning and Salad Dressing

Adding fennel pollen can be a really great addition to soups and salad dressings where an earthy depth is needed and can be amalgamated in the liquid bases almost undetected.

How to Store Fennel Pollen

Fennel pollen is a healthy and nutritious food, but it has to be stored properly to maintain its freshness. 

When exposed to oxygen, fennel pollen can lose its aroma and flavour quite quickly.

Airtight Container

The best way to store your fennel pollen is in an airtight container. Air is the enemy of all foods, and it is important to keep your fennel pollen in an airtight container.

This method means the fennel pollen can be kept for 3-9 months as long as it is kept away from any moisture and direct sunlight.


Air-dry the grains and then store them in large jars with lids that can be tightly sealed – such as Kilner jars. 

The grains should then be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. This can preserve the fennel pollen for years.

Does Fennel Pollen Expire?

Generally, when buying fennel pollen it will come dried which means it can last for years in the cupboard without expiring. It will lose some of its potency over time, however.

Substitutes for Fennel Pollen

Here’s what you can successfully use in place of fennel pollen if you don’t happen to have it to hand:

  • Ground Fennel Seeds – Like fennel seeds, ground fennel pollen provide a liquorice note to food. They all have a mildly spicy and pungent taste with a herby smell. When you put ground fennel seed vs. ground fennel pollen on the scale, it becomes evident that the latter is more intensely pungent than its counterpart.
  • Anise – The anise seeds are spicy, savoury, and can be used in a broader range of recipes because they have one distinctive point that the fennel pollen does not – their sweetness. The anise is ideal for desserts, while the refreshing taste of fennel pollen makes it perfect to use on salads or when you want something sweet.
  • Fennel Fronds – This is another fennel-based product worth trying as a substitute for pollen. When looking at them from afar, Fennel Fronds resemble fresh Dill; however, they’re lighter in colour and have more of a liquorice flavour than Dill. They also get less bitter the longer they cook – surprisingly becoming slightly sweet! 
  • Celery Seeds – The seeds of the celery seem to be entirely compatible with fennel pollen in terms of flavour and taste; however, a few disagree. Celery seeds are a unique ingredient that can be used sparingly because it has their own distinctive flavour, so we recommend using this sparingly while cooking.

Where to Buy Fennel Pollen

When it comes to buying fennel pollen, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pop down to your local supermarket to pick it up. It’s a little harder to come by as it’s quite specialist. Instead, you’ll need to look further afield:

  • Specialty Markets – Fennel pollen may be available at speciality markets where you would find lots of loose spices and herbs to buy. This is an expensive spice, so it may be challenging to find.
  • Health Food Stores – You may be able to find fennel pollen in health food stores; however, this may be in a more retail-friendly format, such as dried in jars.
  • Online Retailers – Online retailers may be the best option to buy fennel pollen as you can find specialty merchants of the spice; it is not something that every store will carry!

Fennel Pollen FAQs

If you’ve got other specific questions about fennel pollen and how to use them, then these might help:

How Do You Make Fennel Pollen?

Once your fennel plants have flowered, cut the flowers from the plant and place them in a sandwich bag. Tie the bag closed with the stalks poking out then hang the bag upside down. As the flower dries, the pollen will drop into the bag.

Is Fennel Pollen and Fennel Seeds the Same?

No, they are not the same thing. One is pollen and the other is seeds. The big difference is that the pollen will be much more concentrated in flavour so you’ll need to use far less of it.

Got more questions about fennel pollen? Then ask away in the comments section at the bottom of this page and we’ll help out as much as possible!

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