I discovered Acacia flowers during my first Spring in Provence. When I remarked on their incredible smell to a local (they smell like honey) they quickly informed me that I should try making beignets d’acacia, or Acacia Fritters. Deep fried flowers?! I had never heard of that before.
You have to be organized to make acacia fritters. The flowers bloom for only about 2 weeks. They are best picked young. The trees with their grape-like bunches of flowers can be found in Provence on abandoned agricultural land, roadsides and along rivers. The trees can grow quite high- so look up!
Last year I tried a French recipe on Marmiton and it didn’t work. Most recipes use a little rum or cognac. I used Armagnac. You have to be careful with this as the alcohol can overpower the taste of the flowers. This year, I left no room for mistakes and used Escoffier’s (the famous French chef) beignet’s d’acacia recipe from his Le Guide Culinaire. They were delicious!
This recipe is for about 25 bunches of flowers. The little crispy morsels should be eaten right away. If you don’t think you’ll eat that many you should probably half the recipe. Some people take the blooms off the stem, and so does Escoffier; however, the paysan on my road was adamant that it wasn’t necessary and, after frying the flowers whole, I agree. The little stems and green parts of the flowers are perfectly edible and once fried, the flowers easily pull away from the main stem.
I don’t have a deep-fat fryer. I used a small saucepan and fried the blooms two at a time (actually my loving boyfriend did). One last tip- make sure your oil is hot enough!
For another recipe using flowers, see my Elderflower Cordial recipe.