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This story starts two years ago. I was at the Carp Farmers’ Market talking Bonnie-Jean Stacey of Take Charge Tea about the fact that elderberries—she blends a tea with elderberries, rosehips, and more—are common in Europe, but seem lesser known here. She responded that Dobson Farm grows them.

That year, the elderberry season had already passed. I went back last summer and bought several boxes of the tiny dark berries. Then it dawned on me that if Mr. Dobson was selling the berries, he would also have elderflowers earlier in the season. I asked him if he would sell me some. He agreed.

Box of elderflowers from Dobson Farm

Box of elderflowers from Dobson Farm. I find these delicate flowers absolutely beautiful.

On Saturday, I picked up a box full of delicately beautiful and subtly perfumed elderflowers—and got way more than I needed to make the planned elderflower syrup. The culinary experimentation began: steeping, infusing, drying, frying, baking, and fermenting!

Right now I have elderflower fizz enjoying the heat on the porch, elderflower syrup steeping in the cool basement, elderflower vinegar infusing in the kitchen, and flowers drying on a tray. On Saturday, David and I made elderflower fritters. On Sunday, we had elderflower pancakes for breakfast. I ended the day baking some “elder power” muffins for our lunches this week.

I stored the elderflower heads in the box in the basement (cool spot). The flowers got more aromatic and became easier to remove from the stems (and started turning brown) with time. It takes a significant amount of flowers to gently flavour any kind of baking. Important to note is that only the flowers and berries can be eaten, and then they should be cooked, because they contain an alkaloid that is mildly poisonous.

Recipe: Elderflower Fritters

Elderflower fritters

This fritters were less crispy than I expected, but delicious nonetheless and something a little bit different.

12 – 16 elderflower “heads”
250 mL beer
250 g flour
25 g sugar
pinch salt
4 eggs, separated
zest of 1 lemon
oil for frying
icing sugar

Select fresh elderflower heads with open flowers (no brown ones). Shake them lightly to remove any unwanted bits/critters. Do not remove them from the stems.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, lemon zest, beer and egg yolks to make a smooth batter. Beat egg whites and fold gently into the batter. Add some (sparkling) water if it seems too thick.

Frying elderflower fritters

Dip the battered elderflower head "head down" into the oil and press down gently to make the individual branches spread.

Heat oil (160-180°C). I used a cast iron frying pan. Fry one elderflower head at a time. Holding the stem, dip the elderflower head into the batter. Spin lightly in the bowl to remove excess batter. Fry until golden. Using tongs flip to fry the other side. Remove from oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Dust with icing sugar to serve.

kim

Recipe: Elder Power Muffins

Elder power muffins

The flowers add a aromatic floral note and the berries lend a little crunch and colour.

Wet:
1 egg
¾ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup apple, coarsely grated (1 medium apple)
¾ cup elderberries, fresh or frozen

Dry:
2 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 cup elderflowers, removed from the stems

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Combine flour, baking powder, salt and elderflowers. Combine all wet ingredients, adding elderberries last (they will very quickly colour the other liquid ingredients). Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend gently until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Epilogue

It’s July 12. The elderflower fizz went flat. Will try again next year.

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