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Posts Tagged ‘elderflower’

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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Word that u-pick strawberry fields would open early started circulating about 2 weeks ago. Eager to make a fresh batch of brilliant red strawberry jam, David was ready to go as soon as the berries were ripe.

This year we went to Proulx Berry Farm in Cumberland, just a couple of minutes beyond Trim Road and the nearest (encroaching) developments. In addition to u-pick, Proulx also offers seasonal produce for purchase fresh from the farm gate; early spring it’s a sugarbush. If eating luscious fresh strawberries isn’t enough for the kids, there’s an unsupervised outdoor playground and petting zoo for them.

Sunday was the perfect day for strawberry picking: sunny, but not too hot. The strawberries were big and plump—sparkling red gems among the green leaves. Easy picking too. Within an hour, the two of us had 4 big baskets (13 litres) of strawberries (and paid only $20 for them).

[I lost the pictures I took at the farm, so unfortunately I have no farm images to enliven this post.]

This year, the strawberries are bridging spring and summer. Here’s a drink I created to celebrate the strawberry season and the upcoming summer solstice.

Recipe: Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Cocktail

Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Cocktail

The Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Cocktail is a refreshing way to celebrate the strawberry season and the upcoming summer solstice.

For one 3 oz. glass:
3 tbsp strawberry puree
½ oz. Amaretto
1 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Bottlegreen elderflower sparkling pressé, well chilled (available at some large supermarkets and specialty food stores, e.g. Herb & Spice)

To make the strawberry puree, slice a handful of fresh strawberries into a tall container and mix until smooth with an immersion blender. I didn’t bother straining the strawberry seeds out of the purée, but it would make a nicer looking drink.

Combine the puree, lemon juice and Amaretto in a 3 oz. glass. Fill to 2/3 with the elderflower sparkling pressé. Mix gently with a spoon. Top up with more elderflower sparkling pressé.

Recipe Variation: Sparkling Strawberry Solstice Mocktail

Replace the Amaretto with 1 ½ tsp of elderflower syrup. If you can’t find elderflower syrup, then replace with simple syrup.

I think it would be cool to come up with a strawberry-rhubarb drink using this rhubarb syrup.

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