Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Make Elderflower Fritters

Old-fashioned cordials, medicinal teas and skin-softening cremes are just a few ways the fragrant flowers of elder (Sambucus nigra; Sambucus canadensis) have been used over the centuries. Elderflowers also make delicious fritters, which I've always wanted to try even though I don't typically like fried foods.

So, I did a little research and read recipes from The London Times and Good Food Channel. Here's my adaptation of those recipes, based on ingredients that were available in my kitchen at the time. We ate ours right before the June full moon, lunar eclipse, and can't wait to make another batch.

Elderflower Fritters Ingredients

1 egg
1 cup flour
1 cup organic milk
5 huge heads of elderflower
3 tablespoon of ultrafine baker's sugar
1 tablespoon of Cointreau (optional)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
Cooking oil

Directions: Pick elderflowers from Sambucus nigra or Sambucus canadensis, which have not been sprayed with pesticides. These flowers came from my backyard tree, which was started from another native tree found an hour from here.

Many recipes recommend you don't wash the flowers, because you'll wash off the pollen that gives the fritters their flavor. So, pick carefully, watch for little critters, shake well and then store in the fridge until you're ready to use. If you can't bear the thought of not washing the flowers, do it gently and then drain in a strainer.

Whisk together ingredients (except the cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of sugar) into a bowl. Let batter sit for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, clip flowers into smaller florets but leave some of the stems.

Fry elderflowers like pancakes, using a spatula. Push flower gently down into the oil until it is golden brown and then flip. Drain cooked flowers on paper towels.

Combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dust tops of the cooked fritters with the cinnamon-sugar. Then sprinkle with some flowers and serve warm with frozen yogurt, fruit or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy the pleasures of summer, and tell yourself you can always visit the gym tomorrow...

More about elder folklore, health benefits and recipes.


  1. Theresa, that looks delicious! I don't usually fry things but those might be the exception. Was your elderberry tree a volunteer, or did you take a cutting? I believe I have elderberry here..

  2. Hi Teresa,

    I still have the hardest time thinking about harvesting elder flowers - I feel like I'm eliminating the many benefits of the fruit.

    We are now growing 5 of the native Elderberry (sambucus cerulea) and another 6 plants of the black, European varieties (for healthful syrup production). Will add a few more black varieties in upcoming years.

    Those fritters *do* make my mouth water. ;-)

  3. Hi Dan and Native Gardener: The small tree came from a cutting started by a local nursery. I had to discipline myself to only pick a few flowers, so I would have plenty of berries.

    I also make a syrup with the berries, which you can find under "Respect your Elders." It's great during cold season.

    Dan, your different elder trees sound amazing. I bet it's lovely right about now. Native Gardener, thanks for stopping by.


  4. Teresa,
    Wow never heard of this sounds yummy. Hope i can remember next year as our elderberries are setting fruit already. Thanks for sharing@!