The onset of Spring always brings with it a new lease of life, both to the woodland and those who attend our sessions. It’s a privilege to witness the changes throughout the season and how it develops into the summer; the wildlife of the woods is at its most active, and the flora increases in vibrancy and colour.
Where we can, we love to learn about and use what the season brings. This last few weeks we have been indulging in Elder. Many of our very own family elders would have pounced on the Elder tree each year to harvest its berries for preserves, wine, and cordial. In the more distant past, it was also used for purple dye. It’s wood is soft and easily whittled, and the smaller stems can be cut and easily hollowed to make jewellery beads and pencils with charcoal inserts. It’s an amazing little tree!
Over the last few weeks, we have been experimenting with using its flowers to make a lesser known delicacy of the Summer Woodland; Elderflower Fritters. The white upside-down umbrella Umbels have a beautiful citrusy scent, and when coated in a light batter and deep fried into fritters, give a perfect snack, or even dessert when dusted with a little icing sugar and drizzled in honey. Give it a go while the flowers are still out, though don’t be tempted to taste the flowers raw, as they contain poisons along with the stalk and leaves, that are eliminated through the cooking process.
You’ll need to make a light batter by mixing;
Simply coat each flower in the batter, then plop it in hot oil and fry away till golden brown. Proper yummers.
Author: Nick Murphy, Exmouth Forest School Manager
Date: 13 June 2019