Fresh Fennel Pollen Ice Cream Recipe from both fennel flowers and its pollen including honey from the bees with a splash of fennel flavor liquor.
Garden Fresh Fennel Flower Inspired Ice Cream
Several years ago, I planted bronze fennel in my garden.
It never seemed to produce a fennel bulb, as does Florence fennel.
But, they grew tall and the aromatic flowers have become a favorite culinary addition every summer.
These majestic flowers return every year, with no effort on my part, and tower well above all other flowers, as well as me!
As I watch the butterflies and bees dart from flower to flower, I knew the essence of the pollen must be too delicious not to bring to my table as well.
From my garden to my kitchen, fennel pollen Ice cream was created.
The Extravagance Of Fennel Pollen
It seems in the culinary world, that fennel pollen is being referred to as “the spice of angels” and “culinary fairy dust”!
Try looking online at the price of harvested fennel pollen.
I had no idea this lovely ‘starburst’ of a yellow flower was so coveted in the culinary world.
So you can believe, I will be harvesting mine every year and finding new ways to incorporate it into new recipes!
Fennel Flavor and Contribution To Food
Since I was a kid, my favorite flavor was not vanilla, it was anything that tastes like licorice.
Always the black jelly beans at Easter time.
As an adult, I came to enjoy ‘grown up’ drinks with that same flavor, and ultimately created a Golden Milk Turmeric Cocktail.
Did you know that Fennel is one of the five ingredients in Five-spice powder?
It’s no wonder I love that spice mix and created a recipe specifically for it – Salmon Croquettes with chili honey.
A favorite Christmas cookie I’ve made for my kids since they were little is also flavored with fennel – Italian Pizzelle Waffle Cookies.
So many ways to bring the flavors of fennel seed and fennel pollen into your kitchen!
When To Pick Fennel Flowers For Pollen
Interestingly enough, I accidentally planted bronze fennel, thinking it was the other type.
Now, I find it popping up all over my garden, and I’m not mad about that!
Early in its growing season, when the burst of yellow flowers soar high above all your other flowers, is the time to gather their pollen.
And yes, I do make sure to leave plenty behind for the bees and butterflies.
Extracting Fresh Fennel Pollen
Once picked, there are few things you must do, if you are not going to be using the pollen right away:
Step 1 – Place a piece of parchment paper on the countertop.
Step 2 – Pinch and rub the tips of the flowers over the paper, shaking periodically.
Step 3 – Quickly, you will see the fine yellow dust across the paper and the flowers quickly look dull, since you have removed their color.
Step 4 – Gather the paper over with a fold and gently transfer to a thin white kitchen t-towel (not terry towel), or piece of 100% cotton cloth.
Step 5 – Leave out to dry out for about 10 days so the moisture is gone and mold can’t form on the spice.
Step 6 – Once totally dry (no longer ‘springy’ to the touch), transfer to a glass jar with a lid and store along with your other spices.
Homemade Spice Mixes
If we are an aficionado of great culinary creations in our kitchen, why would we use a store bought spice mix that may have been sitting on the grocery shelf for ‘who knows how long’?
When I discovered that the price of Pumpkin Spice mix doubled in price in the fall, I began making my own mix for far less in cost.
Now that I have discovered fresh fennel pollen, once I’ve dried it, I will be making both a small jar of fennel pollen with coarse sea salt, and a sugar and pollen mix for many up-and-coming recipes.
Refreshing Fennel Ice Cream
If you’ve never tasted fennel, I would best describe it to be similar to licorice, or anise seed.
Both fennel and anise seed are often used in the making of sausage, simply because the flavor pairs beautifully with pork.
Several types of white fish are also enhanced by the use of fennel seed or braised fresh fennel alongside.
In the summer months, I am often creating new popsicle recipes, inspired by my garden, as a refreshing dessert for hot summer days.
I couldn’t think of anything more refreshing than to make an ice cream out of the fennel pollen.
I simmered several of the flowers straight into the milk.
Added fennel pollen in the creamy mix, just before churning.
Finally adding a sprinkle on top of the ice cream for sheer decadence!
Preparing To Make Fresh Fennel Ice Cream
Once having obtained the fennel flowers, the rest is an easy recipe in preparing the fresh fennel ice cream.
An ice cream base is simply a milk/cream base with egg yolks to make it richer, a sweetener, I used honey in this, and the fennel flavor.
Swapping out a dairy base for a plant based milk can work easily, however I would suggest keeping the egg yolks as part of your ice cream base for a richer texture.
While honey is the sweetener I chose, simply because the bees buzzing about the fennel flowers inspired me, maple syrup, agave nectar or even a half cup sugar can be used.
How To Make Fennel Pollen Ice Cream
1- On top of the stove, in a small saucepan creamy base is started.
2- Primarily we are heating the creamy mixture to a temperature high enough to kill bacteria in the raw egg yolks, without scrambling them.
3- I find the honey blends easier in the hot cream mixture.
4- As for the liquor being added to the ice cream mixture, Arak (a popular Arabic liquor), Ouzo (a popular Greek liquor), or Pernod (a popular French liquor), all strongly flavored with fennel and/or anise, compliment beautifully.
5- When adding alcohol to an ice cream mixture, take care not to add too much, otherwise the mixture doesn’t freeze as well and will remain a soft ice cream, rather than one of more substance.
6- By adding the liquor to the hot creamy mixture at the end, the alcohol remains, however if you want it’s flavor but not the alcohol, simply simmer it into the milk right from the start.
7- Once the ice cream has been churned, it can be stored in an airtight container right away.
8- For easier serving later, I like to scoop portions of the ice cream right after it’s churned, place each in a paper-lined muffin tin, freeze for an hour, then transfer to the airtight container.
Serving is so much easier this way.
Calling All Lovers Of Ice Cream!
Yes I have created a huge collection of Popsicle Recipes, and am in fact considering a cookbook for them.
However, I am just as crazy about homemade Ice Cream Recipes as well, and so I will share those wit you too!
- Toast Ice Cream – yes toast! A delicious and whimsical ice cream make with steeped burnt toast, served over a tea cake made with Earl Grey tea.
- Beetroot Ice Cream – sweet, earthy beet roots whisked into a rich and unusual ice cream.
- Dairy-free S’mores Ice Cream – made with coconut milk and served with chocolate and graham cracker edged glasses and a flaming marshmallow on top.
- Chocolate Almond Milk Ice Cream – made with homemade almond milk.
- Sweet Corn Ice Cream – sun ripened, naturally sweet corn, simmered in a creamy base and churned into perfection.
- Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream – because hubby is British and loves his rhubarb and I am American and love my strawberries.
- Ice-cream maker – my favorite is below, and has lasted me over 10-years.
- Small saucepan
- Measure cup and spoons
- Small strainer
- Airtight container
- Fennel pollen
- Egg yolks
- Whole milk
- Heavy cream
- Fennel flowers
- Arak, Ouzo or Pernod
Fresh Fennel Pollen Ice Cream
- Ice-cream maker
- Small saucepan
- 1 tbsp Fresh Fennel Pollen
- 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 3/4 cups Whole Milk
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 1/4 cup Honey
- 3 Fennel Flowers
- 1 1/2 shots Arak, Ouzo or Pernod liquor
- In a heavy medium saucepan, place the whole milk and fennel flowers over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, turn off and allow the milk to extract the essence of the fennel flowers for 15-minutes. Remove the flowers.
- With the egg yolks in a large metal bowl, pour a slow stream of the warm milk mixture into the yolks while whisking continuously. Whisk in the heavy cream. Transfer this mixture back to the saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a low simmer, while whisking, taking care not to scramble the egg yolks.
- Continue until the mixture coats the back of a spoon and the instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees. Remove from the stove and whisk in the honey, and liquor.
- Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30-minutes.
- Transfer the chilled custard to an ice cream machine, following the manufacturer's instructions and churn the ice cream until firm, about 20-minutes.
- Ice Cream is now ready to serve, or scoop out portion sizes into a muffin tin, lined with muffin papers, and place the fennel ice cream into an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to serve.