Foraged Tasmanian Elder: Battered Elderflower.
The creamy flowers and the sweet perfume of the elderflower is once again permeating the suburbs of Hobart during the early days of summer, and since using them for the first time last year, Brunyfire has become more adventurous in their use this time around.
Elderflowers are best gathered just as the many tiny buds are beginning to open, and some are still closed. Gather on a warm, dry day (never when wet), when the their distinctive perfume is fresh and always gather them away from roads or sprayed verges. Remember to leave some flowers for elderberry picking later in the year.
The elderflower season is a short one, usually about a month – so they’re out now in Tassie – November and into December – and will have disappeared by Christmas.Elder (Sambucus nigra) trees have a long history and are found almost everywhere in Great Britain, Europe, Western Asia and North America. The tree has been called ‘the medicine chest of the common people’ and has been used in traditional folk medicine for centuries.
The name Elder, is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Aeld’, meaning fire – I love that! So appropriate for this site! It was commonly believed that Elders were inhabited by a tree dryad or wood nymph, who was thought to represent the soul of the tree. If treated well and honoured appropriately, the dryad was a most benevolent spirit that blessed and protected the people who cared for it. Mistreat or cut down an Elder without the proper ceremony or the tree’s permission is to seek trouble.
Fitting then that this ‘Elder’ should pass on the knowledge of the forage to her grandchildren………….. Select only the freshest elderflower blooms………… ……inspecting them closely for any brown flowers as these will taint whatever you use them for and taste bitter. A good sniff test is always recommended to ensure quality.
Deep Fried Elderflowers in Batter.
The following recipe is based on one from British chef and food writer, Stevie Parle from an article in The Telegraph.
As this is a fire inspired dish, get your fire started, best lit and fed until a body of coals are established, scoop these into the mesh fire ring……….…..and place a cast iron wok to heat before filling this half way with a good quality vegetable oil.The oil should shimmer with heat – to test if it’s ready, drop a piece of bread into the oil, it should sizzle straight away.
Whilst your oil is heating, prepare your batter by slowly whisking 12 tablespoons of sparkling water into the 4 tablespoons of plain flour until the batter is a little thicker than double cream. Shake the elderflower head to remove any bugs, and dip into the batter.Shake any excess batter off, and place the elderflower head into the hot oil………………..and cook until golden brown.Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon onto a piece of kitchen paper to drain.This can then be drizzled with a flavoured oil (1 large mild red chilli, seeds removed and chopped finely and mixed with 100 ml. good olive oil) and dusted with a sugar/salt mix.
Eat while still hot……..