Ah, the intoxicating scent and sight of the Acacia blossom, the promises of delightful cuisine, indeed springtime has arrived. Why not spoil the love of your life with unique fragrant flower pancakes…
When we bought our house and land here in the South of France, the Acacia trees, with their unique shape and blossoms, their feathery leaves, globular flowers and dry seedpods were eye-catching. Who doesn’t want garden trees surrounded by butterflies.
Little did I know then, as to me they were only the construction material of the Ark of Noah and the Old Covenant, wood being a popular building and construction material in Biblical times. Moreover, it was the durable wood in the 1700s for the shipbuilders. Even nowadays acacias provide the world with water-soluble gums, used as a thickening agent in frozen desserts.
The whistling thorn, or Thorn tree, as they are often called, still had to surprise me in many ways. Admit which tree do you know that has ants as bodyguards? Look at this beautiful documentary of National Geographic:
To me, Acacia trees were very stubborn, no matter how many times you chop them down, they sprout again and again, so that in the end you think “you feisty one, ok go ahead, I allow you to grow and prosper”. This won’t fall on deaf ears, the tree will start growing and will even shoot siblings around its main trunk as well, going all the way for it. Later I learned that most Acacia trees have short lifespans of only 15 to 30 years, that’s why they tend to grow quickly and can reach heights of 40 feet.
If you don’t know an Acacia, think spikes, huge ones. Our goats and donkeys don’t mind the cut off branches, they devour them within seconds, where we, on the other hand, have to be ready with seriously strong gloves whenever we think of pruning them.
If one day a loved one offers you long, thorny, acacia branches, don’t be offended, he offers you a garden of delight! After all they were the gifts of the early native Americans to woo unsuspecting females.
A few years ago, our friends France and Julien visited us in Acacia’s blooming season, our trees were really showing off. I was quite surprised when they told me that these flowers were edible, let alone made an excellent beignet dish, so we tried it out. The flowers only bloom between ten to fifteen days, so no hesitating if you want to devour their delightful taste and no way to describe the feeling on your palate. So sitting outside and watching the many acacia trees growing on my land, I thought this info was worthwile sharing!
All we needed was a bit of our time to pick the flowers on their little stems, clean them (you don’t want to eat insects), whip up a batter of flour, sparkling water and a pinch of salt. Once having the consistency of pancake batter, all you need to do, is just dip each blossom in it, coat it well and then transfer it to the bubbling oil (the ideal temperature for frying is 170-180° C).
Fry the flowers in a way that the bunches are far apart in the pan, so that they do not stick together. One warning though: make the batter fairly liquid, then dip the flowers and gently shake off any excess batter from the flowers, you don’t want to end up with heavy fried ones, as gone will be the delicate flavor of these beauties. Serious warning though: the leaves are toxic so don’t pick those!
The batter is easy, just use your very own, my friends used: 2 egg yolks, milk, (200ml), salt (1/2 tsp) , vanilla (1tsp) and flour (250gr) and sparkling water (150) /( some use beer), they mixed it well and allowed it to rest for about 30 minutes. The whites and sugar were then whisked and later spooned into the first mixure. Some people serve them sprinkled with icing sugar or even acacia honey. You’ll have enough for about 20 flowers for sure, be aware don’t overeat…
For those of you not wanting to make batter, you can eat them as they are, add them to your salad or yoghurt, or even better make jam and add them to your very own jam recipe for an extra touch of flavour. Even for breakfast muffins or pancakes (just stir the flowers in your normal batter) they’re divine!
Their English name is “locust flowers” (Robinia Pseudoacaci) whereas here in France, we call them “fleurs d’acacia”. Enjoy their beautiful flowery blossom and pick them when they have just opened.
And here I am enjoying another timeless moment, with my pot of flowers filling the house with perfume and a having culinary moment of spring fried Acacia flowers. The bees love them, why wouldn’t we?