Ever since Flower went foraging for nettles, I have been intrigued by the idea of foraging. For awhile now, I have been hearing of people foraging for mushrooms and for all sorts of wild greens, even within the city limits. My friend Cara is the expert on foraging and I have been wanting to go mushroom foraging with her for awhile, but it hasn’t worked out time-wise yet (she often goes on weekdays and odd hours).
When Cara came over last Saturday and asked if I wanted to go foraging for maple blossoms and then make maple blossom fritters, I said “Hell yeah!”. I did think we were going to get in the car and drive somewhere though. I realize that you often don’t have to go far to forage for greens and such, but I guess I didn’t cross my mind that it could happen just blocks from my house!
So we took the dogs for a walk to the park down the street and didn’t even have to enter it before we saw a huge maple tree full of em’!
Cara, the big leaf maple and my mom’s dog “Mickey”, who lives with us now.
It’s funny how I never noticed these flowers before and now I see them everywhere. Word of warning, some of these “racemes” were kind of buggy, so you should inspect them first. We tried to soak the extra buggy ones in salt water, which works for broccoli (it causes the bugs to jump ship), but it didn’t seem to have an effect on these. We had enough non-buggy ones though, so we just went with those.
Cara had a recipe for Maple Blossom Fritters, from a book called Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine.
It’s a basic fritter dough made with ingredients you probably already have; flour, baking soda and cornstarch. I have to say that, the author, Jennifer Hahn’s recipe does not call for enough flour. We did a couple of test batches until we found a consistency we liked.
The fritter batter should drip off some, but enough of it should hang on to the maple blossom so that it is coated.
We also used about half the oil she recommended. We still filled the skillet almost an inch deep, which felt like a lot! The idea is to deep fry these so it has to be deep enough to coat the fritter or the batter will sink to the bottom and it won’t fry evenly or be very pretty.
As for the taste, while I could taste a hint of the actual maple blossom, I have to be honest in that I feel these are mostly a vehicle for fried bread. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily. They are a perfect vehicle, as the batter can hang on to all the little flowers. It also, maybe, subconsciously took away the guilt of eating so much fried bread covered with powdered sugar (because it was over a foraged blossom), because I sure did eat a lot of them! Like I have said before, I am a hug fan of taking something fresh from the garden and covering it with cheese, so why not deep fry something foraged!
Thank you Cara, for taking me on a little foraging and cooking adventure in my own neighborhood!