Frittered Maple Flowers

This article discusses my experience with making some very tasty frittered maple flowers while on my boat, the Rock ‘n Row, in Watmough Bay on Lopez Island

maple flower

Edible maple leaf flowers

I was on a walk-break at work this last week and I saw that the buds had burst on a particularly large bigleaf maple tree. Out of the buds were popping these little adolescent flower clusters. I knew that the sap of these maple leaf trees was edible and I had heard one could even shuck the whirly-gig ‘helicopter’ seed pods if one was patient (and hungry) enough.

I decided to give a large maple flower a taste test and see what they were like. They were crunchy, with a pleasant mild taste, and a peanuty aftertaste. When I got back to the computer, I did some googling and ran across this great recipe at Pacific Rain. It looked so tasty, that after work I went back and got about a half gallon of blossom clusters from these edible trees.

Annie and I had planned to take the boat over to Watmough Bay on Lopez Island. We’ve been making a serious effort to study edible wild foods together and I was really excited to try this tasty recipe for breakfast on Saturday. I made sure to follow the Pacific Rain recipe to the letter and it turned out I made exactly enough batter. I’d estimate I had about a half of a gallon of maple flowers; which was about two the three dozen maple leaf flower clusters, collected in about 10 minutes.

washing maple leaf flower

Washing the maple leaf flowers.

The hardest part of preparing the maple flower fritters was getting the bugs off the maple flowers. I filled the basin in the sink with just enough water to submerge the flower clusters. This caused all the bugs to begin running for the high ground. By alternately dunking and flicking the maple flowers, I was able to get them clean, bug free, and fairly dry. The trick is to be able to flick the flower cluster without losing any of the edible flowers or breaking the stem. The stem is the strongest part of the flower bud, so by holding it by the stem and being sure to be gentle, I was able to get them clean without too much effort or spoilage.

I put the cleaned and dried flower buds into a bowl to wait for the batter. Once the olive oil began to boil, I dipped the maple flowers into the batter and dunked them into the hot oil.

frittered maple flower

Tuh duh! Frittered maple flowers!

These little flowering maple fritters were awesome little treats! Just as the recipe said, I sprinkled a little flower and dripped my favorite maple syrup over the top. However, later in the day I was eating the leftovers and I realized that I liked them better cold and unsweetened. They made hardly little snack on our hike later that day.

Frittered Maple Flowers from Chris Troutner on Vimeo.

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3 Responses to “Frittered Maple Flowers”
  1. sarah says:

    hey, alright! I’m so glad it worked out for you – and they look beautiful! I didn’t think to try them chilled – I’ll definitely have to give that a go. So, since you are into wild foods, are you foraging fiddleheads at this point yet? I know that they are usually up at the same time as the maple blossoms and the young leaves of stinging nettles (I’ll do another round of nettle soup or a nettle pasta soon). I definitely want to learn about recognizing the proper ferns to harvest for fiddleheads this spring.

    • Chris says:

      Hey Sarah!

      Yes, my wife and I have been keeping our eyes out for fiddle heads, but all we’ve been able to find so far at Bracken Fern fiddle heads, which are the ones that have been proven to secrete a carcinogen. Lady fern is supposed to be the best, but we haven’t run across any in the last week.

      Thanks again for the great recipe!


  2. sherrie says:

    We have a huge maple tree in our yard and after you posted this I went right out and got some to try for myself. I have not done the fritter recipe yet, but we had a bunch of the flowers steamed with salt, pepper, and butter for dinner that night. They turned out wonderfully crunchy with a flavor like broccoli. I was very pleased. Thanks for the idea!

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