Elderflower cordial is something that I’ve drunk by the gallon, but eating the flowers in a fritter wasn’t something I’d considered, until I’d read The River Cottage Year by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Published almost ten years ago now, this book and accompanying TV series, helped to galvanise the movement to grow your own and eat the seasons.
Alongside the arrival of ripe, ruby strawberries, to me, elderflowers herald the start of summer. Clusters of white starry flowers seem to be erupting like fireworks all around at the moment and, as I walk down the road, their dreamy perfume hits me.
Using Hugh F-W’s recipe as a starting point, I’ve tweaked it slightly, over the years. Preferring a lighter, crisper batter, I add in a little rice flour in place of the plain, so the springiness of the fritter still remains.
8 elderflower heads -dunk in cold water to remove any insects if need be, but try to keep dry and dusted with fragrant pollen.
For the batter:
100g plain flour
25g rice flour
25g caster sugar
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
125ml chilled soda or sparkling water
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
Mix the two flours, sugar and oil with the soda water, until the consistency of double cream. Allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, whip up the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the vanilla to the flour mix, followed by the egg whites; creating a looser, frothy batter.
Dip the elderflowers into the batter, allowing any excess to fall away and then, drop into hot oil. For large flower heads, cut into two or three sprigs as this tends to give a better result. Fry and turn, until golden. Drain and dust with icing sugar or, drizzle with honey. Eat warm, to enjoy the perfumed puff of steam, as you bite into your fritter.
Avoid flowers close to the roadside and, please ask permission from the landowner before picking. On common land, be sensible and be aware of the law.