Edible flowers - Elderflower and Acacia Flower Fritters
Acacia and Elderflower Fritters
It was early June last year when my friend Sue came to Les Trois Chenes, ourBed and Breakfast in Limousin, France, with her arms full of what we call acacia flowers, (they are really from the Robinia family though) and I soon found out that they were not for decoration, but for eating!
She had been for lunch with a lady who had fried the flower racemes of the Black Locust tree in batter and produced them as an unusual nibble or starter dish. Sue and I set to work and soon had a plate full of fragrant, hot, elderflower and Acacia flower fritters.
We loved them, but would my husband and son like them too? Yes, they obediently tried them, (both are very good when it comes to my wacky food ideas), and they gave them the thumbs up, so this year I thought I'd make them again, but add elder flowers to the menu as well.
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The 'Acacia' Tree and Elder Bush
The tree that I am referring to that grows readily in France and many other european countries is not in fact a member of the Acacia family, but is Robinia pseudoacacia, commonly known as the Black Locust, a tree in the subfamily Faboideae of the pea family Fabaceae.
The Black locust is a large tree with white flowers that hang in racemes (like bunches of grapes on a stalk) and thorns. It looks like a larger version of its relative the pretty, yellow flowered but poisonous European Laburnum. Every part of the Black Locust tree, especially the bark, is considered toxic, with the exception of the flowers. It just shows how important it is to identify plants correctly, or take reliable advice!
Elder or elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a genus of shrubs or small trees in the moschatel family, Adoxaceae. It grows as a weed all over England and France and has small white or creamy coloured flowers born in great, foamy heads in late May and early June. Later in the year the bush has dark red, edible berries.
Other edible flowers in the spring garden
Make a light batter
To make the batter put the flour into a bowl, add the egg and gently incorporate the egg into the flour. Bit by bit add the liquid, stirring all the time to avoid lumps forming. (Note: if lumps do form - squash against the side of the bowl, and if all else fails - sieve it!). If you use beer, (and being in France the beer we have here is more akin to lager), or sparkling white wine, the mixture will froth up. I used a light beer in the mixture shown in the photos.
If you have a sweet tooth you can add a dessert spoon of white sugar to the mixture.
Prepare the acacia flowers or elderflowers
Use freshly picked flowers. The black locust flowers especially soon begin to wilt. Make sure that the flowers have not been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides (unlikely for shrubs and trees!). Ensure that there are no little visitors in the flowers. Elderflowers seem to be good hosts and I find quite an array of insects living in their blooms. Shake out the little darlings, but don't wash the flowers, as you'll lose the fragrance and all that delicious pollen!
To cook the flowers
Put a little oil into a frying pan, just enough to cover the pan and heat it until a drop of the batter sizzles and turns brown around the edges. Then dip the flowers in the batter and immediately put into the hot oil. Fry until the batter just begins to cook on top and the edges start to brown. Then turn them over and cook the other side. The batter should be cooked through and just turning golden.
Eddible Plants: Black Locust
More Edible Flower Ideas from Amazon
To serve your elderflower or acacia fritters
Serve these delicate and fragrant fritters as a nibble before dinner, or between courses. Dust them with fine sugar and decorate the plate with edible flower petals or sugared flowers. You could use them as a dessert with ice cream, or serve them with a lavender-flavoured cream or creme fraiche dip. However they are served, you are sure to intrigue and delight your guests with this delicious and unusual delicacy!
Other Ideas for Using Black Locust Blossoms and Elder Flowers
There are many ways that you can use these flowers in the kitchen. As a child I remember sitting in the sunshine, stripping elder flowers from their stalks so that my mother could make elder flower wine. The perfume was heavenly! Here are just a few other ideas:
Elder flower and Black Locust
- Added to water as a flavouring
- Added to cosmetics as beauty treatments
- Ingredient in medicins and salves
Black Locust Blossom
- Eat raw as a nibble
- Add raw to a salad
- Make into a tea to treat headaches, nausea and stomach aches*.
* Always check with someone who you trust before you treat yourself with herbal medicines.
- As flavouring in jams and jellies
More on flowers, edible and otherwise
- Flowers are vegetables too!
Most people will be used to eating broccoli and cauliflower - but how many people eat the many other delicious flowers blossoming in their gardens? Put them in salads, sugar them for cake decorations, garnish desserts or make flower fritters. Flowers
- How to make sugared flowers
What do you think of eating the flowers?
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© 2010 Les Trois Chenes
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