Respect your Elderflowers

Barely a week shy of the Summer Solstice, I think we can safely say summer is here and June’s Invisible Food Walk was ready to celebrate this good news with the lovely scent and flavour of elderflower. After the success of the dandelion fritters last month, dipping these beautiful blooms in batter seemed like a winning option!

We went to Wyck Gardens where there are several beautiful big elder trees just ripe for the picking. Several large bags were filled and as the sun came out we all felt cheered by the beautiful light summery scent the flowers left on our hands. We pottered round looking for other early summer plants and generally enjoying the day, before picking up some salad ingredients at the Angell Town community herb garden.

Back at the centre, it was time to get preparing. There was a mountain of gloriously green chickweed to chop and all the elderflower heads needed checked for beasties. Deep fried greenfly is a bit too natural even for our tastes! Both dishes are incredibly simple to make and could be done with children (under supervision) making them perfect for a family day!

The pesto was very easy to make, you’re really just replacing the basil with chickweed so you could use any recipe you already have. Ceri suggests it would be good with walnuts (especially when they are in season for foraging) for a more grown up taste. I loathe walnuts so I’ll be sticking to pinenuts! I forgot to ask her if this chickweed pesto would freeze as well as regular basil pesto does, but I guess it’s worth trying.

We boiled some penne to coat with the pesto and accompanied it was some majestic red chard from Segan’s allotment. This beautiful uber-fresh leafy veg was chopped and stirfried with some garlic and onion to add some iron-rich green crunch to our main course. Since my chard has failed to do anything much for the second year in a row, my eyes were as green with envy these gorgeous emerald leaves…especially when I tasted them!

The chard was so fresh and tasty with the delicious of oxalic acid and it complimented the creamy chickweed pesto beautifully. Suprisingly light and tasty, the pasta and pesto was devoured almost instantly. I would have loved seconds, but there was no chance. I think people might have been scraping the pot clean so as not to miss the last tasty green morsels!

Such fresh light food was perfect for lunch and meant we were all ready for dessert. The elderflowers had been shaken to make sure they weren’t losing their petals to burn in the hot oil and the less perfect specimens had been set aside for make elderflower cordial so we heated up a nice deep pan of oil and dipped the elderflower heads in the batter before frying them for a minute or two. Thanks to their handy little stalks, this is very easy to do even if you don’t have utensils handy.

We then dipped the fritters into the hawthorn flower syrup that we made last month before adding a splash of lemon juice. The combination of hot crispy batter, sweet floral syrup and light aromatic flowerhead together was sensational. If you’d been served these as a dessert in a restaurant you’d have been more than impressed. They were the right level of sweet and crispy and as we discovered you can eat quite a few of these fabulous fritters before you admit defeat.

Sadly I can’t really show you how attractive looking these fritters were as my camera battery decided to die on me just as the first fritter emerged golden and glorious from the oil. Inconvenient in some ways, but handy since it allowed me to have both hands free for eating! And I won’t have wanted to miss out on this real treat!

If there are any elderflowers still looking good in your area, then I suggest you get frying this weekend. These fritters would be perfect with this season’s gooseberries and a glass of well chilled Pimms in the garden as you revel in the brief arrival of the British summer!

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4 replies
  1. Mister North
    Mister North says:

    Fantastic! I’ve been admiring the heavy crop of elderflowers this year, and have been contemplating making cordial or liqueur with the delightfully aromatic flowerheads. I’m going to have to try these fritters too… yum!

  2. Margo-a-go-go
    Margo-a-go-go says:

    For a start, props for the epic pun in the title. I love Elderflower cordial – and understand that if made & left, it regularly fernents – what a delicious rumour.

    Plus chard is silverbeet, right? One of my favourite veg.

  3. miss_south
    miss_south says:

    Ah, is that what silverbeet is? I have always wondered what the hell my friend in Wellington is growing! My New Zealand-British dictionary is usually better than that!

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