Elderflower Fritters

by Kristin on July 16, 2013

With the hot, sunny weather we’ve been having these past two weeks, the musky scent of elderflower hangs heavy in the still air, perfuming the countryside and drifting in the open windows at night as we fall off to sleep.

The elderflower was late to bloom this year, but the trees have made up for the delay by being especially abundant. After making the obligatory batch of cordial, I wanted to experiment with something new to me this year: elderflower fritters. The fritters are basically just deep-fried flowers; it’s like crossing the notorious fried foods of an American state fair with the Irish countryside. Delicate, crisp, sweet and floral, they are ethereally delicious.

The elderflowers are already starting to turn and by next week the flowers will be past their prime, so if you want to bring them into your kitchen, do it quick, before it’s too late this year.

*For more elderflower and wild food recipes, check out the archive.

Elderflower Fritters
adapted from Nigel Slater in The Guardian

Serves 4–6

The best time to pick elderflowers is on a dry, warm day, well away from traffic and roadsides. Shake the flowers gently to get rid of any insects.

100g plain flour
175ml sparkling water
sunflower oil
caster sugar
1 egg white
12–16 elderflower heads
gooseberry and elderflower compote, to serve (optional)

Sift the flour into a large bowl, then add the sparkling water and 2 tablespoons of the sunflower oil. Whisk together until a thick paste forms, then stir in 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar. Set aside for 30 minutes (don’t be tempted to skip this resting time, it’s essential for a light result). Just before you’re ready to fry the elderflowers, beat an egg white and fold it into the batter.

Gently swirl the elderflower heads in a bowl of cold water to clean them, then lightly shake them dry. Line a plate with some kitchen paper and sprinkle a good few tablespoons of caster sugar into a shallow dish.

Pour about 3cm (1 inch) of sunflower oil into a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided pan and heat the oil until it reaches 180°C (350°F). (If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test that the oil is hot enough by dropping in a cube of bread — the oil is ready when the bread turns golden in just a few seconds.) Dip the elderflowers into the batter and lower them into the oil. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until the batter is golden and crisp. Lift out and blot on the kitchen paper-lined plate to soak up any excess oil, then dip into the dish of caster sugar. Eat the fritters straightaway, while they are hot and crisp, pulling the fried flowers off the thick woody stems. You can serve them with a gooseberry and elderflower compote, but they are a delicious, decadent summertime treat just on their own.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret July 16, 2013 at 7:50 pm

This has been on my ‘to do’ list for years…. just reckoned I’d never have the patience to do it… or someone would eat them all while I was cooking!! You make it sound so easy to make them :)


Kristin July 16, 2013 at 8:40 pm

And don’t forget that I have you to thank, Margaret, for helping me discover I even had elder trees in my garden in the first place! It was only when I visited your farm and saw you picking elderflowers that I realised what they were. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy these are to make – I had visions of slaving away over a pot full of hot oil on a hot summer night, when in fact they took only minutes to cook and only need a little (relatively speaking) oil. I just wish I’d made them earlier in the season so that I could have made more this year. Let me know what you think if you try them.


Nick @ Bakingbeardy July 18, 2013 at 9:25 am

These always remind me of my college dorm, which was surrounded by elderflowers! I don’t know, it feels like a hard leap to make for me to deep fry them, although I’m not sure why…


Kristin July 18, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Nick, I was dubious at first too, but these are so delicious and take only minutes to make. Do give it a go!


Maureen May 18, 2014 at 8:48 pm

The only use I have made of elderflowers is to make a delicious white country wine from them. Deep frying them sounds indulgent! Is there any known medicinal benefit attributed to elderflowers?


Kristin May 19, 2014 at 8:27 am

I’m not sure about elderflowers, but elderberries are full of good things: http://edible-ireland.com/2011/09/26/spiced-wild-elderberry-syrup/


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