1. Pollen – bane of your life or an undiscovered kitchen gem?

    The Allergy and Free From Show runs from 18th -20th May 2012. Welcome news for those with hayfever, as they prepare for the high pollen season. Some people who are allergic to pollen like  Great British Chefs blogger Urvashi Roe (aka @BotanicalBaker) and suffer from hayfever can build up their tolerance before the season starts by eating local honey and pollen.   Find out more about this and also discover some delicious recipes that use pollen 

    Blog post by Urvashi Roe 

    I suffer from hayfever and so at this time of year, pollen really is the bane of my life. I wake up sneezing with sore itchy eyes and spend most of the day with a bunged up nose.  I can see those little pollen grains in the air and feel wheezy just looking at them.  But every dark cloud, and in this case, pollen grain has a silver lining. Some forms of pollen are edible and highly nutritious.

    My local beekeeper told me that in a beehive, both honey and pollen grains are eaten.  We generally tend to eat honey which is high in antioxidants.  But pollen is far more nutritious as 35% of each grain is protein and also contains high levels of vitamins. Of course you’d have to eat a lot to get your daily dose of goodness because one pinch of contains thousands of grains!

    Most people who are allergic to pollen like me and suffer from hayfever can build up their tolerance before the season starts by eating local honey and pollen but some could find the same or different allergic reactions start to appear.

    Luckily I can eat honey and pollen without any allergic reactions.  There are plenty of pollen varieties to choose from.  First off saffron which are the strands of crocus flowers, cultivated with the pollen grains in some cases.  It has a subtle, sweet flavour with tones of hay and works well in sauces and sweet dishes.  Here are some dishes you can try using saffron.

    Steamed wild sea bass, razor clams, asparagus, pastis and saffron sauce - Morgan Meunier

    Gratinated pine nut-basil chicken with saffron mayo - Vineet Bhatia

    Zaffrani Pulao - Alfred Prasad

    Next you have fennel pollen, the potent granules harvested from the buds of flowering fennel plant. It’s a culinary tradition in Northern Italy and its flavour combines the liquorice zing of fresh fennel seeds and anise with citrus and honey. 

    Fennel Pollen photo by Global Harvest

    Here are some great dishes using fennel pollen:

    Lemon parfait, fennel pollen ice cream, fennel granita, and olive oil jelly - Adam Simmonds

    Halibut, fregola and scallops - Alan Murchison

    Halibut fillet glazed with lardo, parsnip purée and a verjuice and spring onion sauce - Simon Hulstone

    Instead of fennel pollen, you could use dill pollen which is dill in its purest form.  Use it as you would fresh dill for a more intense flavour.

    Dill Pollen photo by Global Harvest

    Try substituting the fresh dill with dill pollen in these recipes:

    Cured salmon - Marcello Tully

    Chilled cucumber and horseradish gazpacho with Lymington crab salad and pickled white radish - Matthew Tomkinson

    If you have hayfever like me or other allergies and would like some inspiration for recipes why not visit the Allergy and Free From Show which runs from Friday 18th May to Sunday 20th May 2012 at Olympia.  There are a whole host of exhibitors, workshops and recipe demonstrations as well as support groups.