Fritters are much like a pancake, usually with a primary ingredient like apples (apple fritters), potato or zucchini (both regional favorites).
In Italy (especially in Piedmont), Germany and Austria, the umbels (flowers resembling umbrellas) of the elderberry are batter coated, fried and then served as a dessert fritter with a sugar and cinnamon topping, known as “Hollerküchel”.
Our sweet, funny longtime friend Mary Guffey lived robustly, both mentally and physically, to her 94th birthday. She taught me about elderberry flowers (above) for summer fritters and stories of how she learned from her mother to make them as a girl.
That, and using the super health-giving elderberry to make jam, wine, and elderberry tincture was a common practice that old-timers felt gave ‘vitality and vigor’ to life.
And I believe it! Mary was sharp as a tack well into her mid-90s!
Elderberries (Sambucus) have been a powerful folk remedy for centuries in North America, Europe, Western Asia, and North Africa, so the medicinal benefits of elderberries are being investigated and rediscovered. Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis.
Elderflower fritters are a delicacy you will not want to miss as are the fritters we make out of dandelions as a spring tonic or reboot:)
Elderberry Flower Fritters:
You will need a frying pan, cast iron skillet or griddle and coconut (what we use because it is healthy and can take the higher heat) or your preferred oil to fry in.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (or flour of your choice) GF flour works!
- 2-3 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk (or coconut milk)
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, optional
- 12-16 Elderberry blossoms with stems, washed and patted dry (you can 2 cups substitute thinly sliced apple wedges or diced apple )
- oil for frying – I use virgin coconut oil in a high-sided sauce pan
- confectioner’s sugar for dusting, optional
Super Simple Directions:
- With a whisk, just mix the flour, eggs, cinnamon, salt, and milk into a thin pancake batter
- Heat 1/5-1/4 inch of coconut oil in your frying pan, cast iron skillet or griddle to a medium-high heat.
- I turn on my exhaust fan
This recipe is pretty amusing. Your hot oil is waiting on the stove. You’ve whipped up a thin batter and your elderflower heads are at the ready to be dipped. You dunk the first head into the batter, and it clumps together into a wet-mop sort of a thing.
Oh, no, you fret! Is this really going to work?
You gently shake off the excess batter and lower the head into the hot oil.
Then comes the show: dip it straight down, sizzle for a bit until golden brown and this beautiful lacy fried-thing appears.
If you have enough oil (1/4″?), the flower head that had clumped together in the batter will spread back to life in the hot oil.
Whoa! So cool!
Drizzle with honey or maple syrup and serve while warm. Oh, my – so wonderful! Dust with confectioner’s sugar for a beautiful presentation.
Elderberry bushes are stunning when in bloom and bearing fruit. The berries you don’t pick attract mockingbirds, gray catbirds, bluebirds, cedar waxwing, and northern orioles all fall and winter.
Berries ripen in late August and early September. If you want to plant your own, pick a place they can have room to spread out, because they can get quite large (plant 6-8′ apart).
If you are wanting to grow these important berries at your own place, plan on getting one each of two varieties (Nova and York) since they don’t self-pollinate. You can get them from Gurney Nursery here and from Edible Landscape (under Shrubs) here.
Making Elderberry Tincture
You may also want to try your hand at making elderberry tincture or syrup. If you do, you can forget the flu (our experience if taken at first symptoms)!
Reasonably priced dried elderberries, available organically, can be found here.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, and do not share this as medical advice; it is something that has been practiced for hundreds of years and that our family does. Both Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates mentioned and recommended elderberry as a medicinal herb in their writings.
Elderflower fritters are a fun and delicious way to eat wild right from your yard! Read a bit on foraging elder flowers and berries here. For other edible, wild, free food, check out The Joys Of Foraging!
“All that man needs for health and healing has been provided by God in nature, the challenge of science is to find it.” ~Paracelsus (1493-1541)
Thanks for posting this good article!
How neat to see someone else who grows the elderberry!. We should use the things that grow right around us for food. Elderberries are tartly delicious and we love them, too.
My parents were from Bavaria, Germany. I am 1st generation. My mom made these
fried elderberry blossoms every year when we were growing up. Elderberries were
everywhere back in the 1940’s. She fried them out in lard back then, and she served
them dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
Re. Elderberry recipes : You’ve forgotten the most important usage.
Elderberry and Elderflower wine. The smugglers (here in the UK) used to use it to mix with the French wines that they smuggled from France. It’s strong colour with high tannin levels, made it ideal for mixing with the French imports. As it could not be detected. And of course the smugglers could increase their profits.
In the past I have fermented on the actual berries, but have had problems clearing the finished wine. But this year I picked some from my small holding (Only half an acre) Placed them in a bucket, Covered them with boiling water, left them to stand over night and the following day strained off the liquid added sugar and yeast and put it in a fermentation jar (with an air lock) to ferment.
Now this would give you a basic elderberry wine to which you could add other things such as sultanas which could replace the sugar but this year I have increased the volume of liquid by adding red grape juice from one of the local super markets. So far it’s looking like an excellent brew. Good colour, clear and you can definitely taste the elderberries. (The grape juice from the super market had an original specific gravity of 80 which will yield about 10/11% according to the hydrometer. Then of course one has to consider the effects of the water added to the elderberries (which will dilute the final strength) and the addition of the sugar. (Which will increase the strength) So to conclude, I do not know what the final strength will be, but it should be reasonable. But so far the results are looking pretty good, and I will definitely reproduce the recipe next year.)
How thoughtful to share with me what you are doing with the wine and the fermenting =) It is so interesting to me too. I am experimenting with poaching apricots, pears, prunes, and cranberries (for a bit of color) in kombucha. It has been delicious, but a speck too fermented. I hope your wine turns out excellently. God bless you, sir! We love the UK 🙂
Good morning!!! Hope your December is going well! We have just said good-bye from a long visit with family and I am a bit-broken hearted but *thankful* for the time that God gave us together.
We are doing an ELDERBERRY only link up this month to gather everyone’s recipes and ideas. If you have time to share all your elderberry posts, it will be until the end of the month. If not, no worries for I do understand busy!! 🙂 I just had to invite you since you were the one who first excited me about them!!
Blessings, health, strength and wisdom to you and your loved ones…
I would LOVE to share on your link-up! JES, you have blessed me so many times with encouragement, choice content, and just plain loveing friendship, so it is a no-brainer! I think and pray for you all so often! God be with you and now get some rest!
Hi Jacqueline. What a wonderful and informative website you have. I am going to be growing elderberries starting this year and I am a bit nervous as I heard the stems are poisonous. From what I have read you pick the berries and put them in the freezer, then after they are frozen, you knock the berries off the stems…correct? And how can one make fritters out of the blossoms if they are poisonous?
Hi, Nancy! Sorry I am behind in responding to comments 🙂
No, the blossoms aren’t poisonous, but I am not a horticultural expert. We make fritters out of the flowering umbels fairly often https://deeprootsathome.com/make-elderberry-fritters-recipe-growing-elderberries/ I found something pretty definitive on Wikipedia about using the umbels (flowers) as food. “In Italy (especially in Piedmont), Germany and Austria, the umbels of the elderberry are batter coated, fried and then served as a dessert or a sweet lunch with a sugar and cinnamon topping, known as “Hollerküchel”.” Look under ‘FOOD’ in this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sambucus
And, yes, I put the berries in the freezer and once totally frozen , they pretty much fall off the little stems. I have made this for years and don’t worry too much if there are some (by some I mean 20-30) little stems still in the final batch that gets the vodka. I get what I can and leave the rest to the care of the Lord. We have never gotten anything but well when we use elderberry at the first sign of a bug or cold.
Also, just handling the stems and pruning them back will not cause a poisonous reaction. I always wera gloves when I prune anything just to protect my hands from rough treatment.
I hope that helps!
I pray you are blessed in all you put your hand to for your family.
Oh I love this! We have lots of wild elderberries in our yard and love that I know what to do with them now. Thank you so much Ms. Jacque!
You are welcome, Cheyanna Rose 🙂 So glad it gives you the knowledge to now know how to use them 🙂 Hugs to you ALL! 🙂 Have a fantastic weekend 🙂
Wow, we are still waiting for daffodils, but the elderberries will come…. Thank you.
I am seeing the blossoms in our area of the midwest. I recall Mom preparing and serving these as a special treat. Typically we had them with maple syrup. Have not had them in decades, so am especially pleased to have the directions as well as to know that others enjoy them as well. In the fall, she mixed elderberry and apple for an especially delicious jelly. I am so blessed to have such a Mom; she continues to be a prayer warrior for all of us. Thanks for sharing this.
What a great recipes -Eldenberry fritters and Tincture. I know that elderberries are known for their many medicinal qualities and the cough syrup i know works really well (so much better than the store bought with all the additives). The fritters sound delicious and so healthy. Thanks for sharing on Real Food Fridays. Pinned & twitted.
Hi Jacqueline, I love this post! I also make these fritters with our Elderflowers, they are so delicious and easy to make! You left a comment on my blog chalkingupsuccess.com requesting permission to post my Elderflower Syrup recipe as a guest post on your blog. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve answered you via email. Hope you have a fabulous week!
Hi, Jayne! I did just see it! I am so thankful you have agreed, and I will get it into my schedule for some time in July!
I love your beautiful style, your clear writing, and your images! I can’t wait to introduce you to my readers!
Thank you! ~Jacqueline
I made these tonight. Are you sure the ingredients have the right quantities? I used as written: 1 & 3/4 c flour, 2 eggs, and 1/2 c milk. It was closer to bread dough than a batter. I thinned it, but they just weren’t quite right. Any suggestions?
Oh, dear, Jeannette,
I went back to my written recipe and saw it is just 1 cup flour, 1/2 c. milk and my notes said ‘3 eggs’, though I know I’ve used just 2 several times. I am sorry I messed up your meal with the inacurate recipe.
And I wonder how many others, too! I corrected it in the post. Thank you for letting me know!