One of the joys of foraging is following the seasons, making the most of each fleeting abundance. Loving it for a few short weeks, learning something new, maybe storing some of it away before the next thing comes along. It’s never boring!
Next up, one of the most anticipated foraging delights is just coming into flower somewhere near you. Elderflowers!
Everyone knows about elderflower cordial and elderflower gin (which are great and you should definitely make them too!), but I want to tell you about the overlooked delight that is elderflower pancakes, or fritters! Best made over an outdoor fire and dusted with a little icing sugar. Yum!
10 or so fresh elderflower heads
100g Flour (plain or self-raising)
300ml water, milk, or fizzy water
1 egg (leave out or substitute if vegan)
Butter or oil for frying
Icing sugar for dusting
Pinch of salt
Elderflower harvesting notes:
Pick flowers on a sunny day and do not wash them, or you’ll lose all the pollen and much of the taste. You can let them sit bit if you want the insects to creep out. Or shake them gently.
It’s worth noting that elder tees and elderflowers are easily mistaken for rowan and wayfaring trees or even cow-parsley. Look these up and compare carefully if you’re not sure! And to get a definite ID, always cross reference at least 2 books or trusted online sources and/or a trusted plant-knowledgeable person. While not totally straightforward at first, elder trees definitely worth working out.
My tips are to learn its leaf pattern, its knobbly distinctive bark, and its distinctive scent when the leaves are crushed.
Mix together the milk/water, salt, sugar and egg. If you don’t have a blender, it’s best to add the milk/water last, and slowly - bit by bit, starting with a very thick mixture and thinning it out. You get less lumps this this. Or use a blender. It should be quite a runny mixture so adjust accordingly.
Dip your elderflower heads in the mixture and fry them in a hot pan with a generous amount of butter or oil until golden brown. Enjoy having a handy stalk for picking them up and turning them over!
Dust with icing sugar and enjoy!
Instead of the whole flower heads, cut off the flowers and mix in individual flowers instead. With the batter, this is essentially a pancake mix, although fizzy water makes it more of a batter mix, so use any other recipe if you prefer! Add bananas?
Beer– apparently beer instead of water is a good idea… (?) give it a go and let me know!
Sorry if you like precise recipes, I usually just make it up with what I have and get creative if I don’t! But however you make them, elderflower fritters are amazing!!