|Black Locust Blossoms|
It never fails. Whenever I go out looking for one thing I stumble across something even better! This past week I visited Harlinsdale Farm, a park in Williamson County, TN. I went to check on the progress of the Curly Dock which is all over the fields and starting to produce seeds. I waded through the waist high grasses and walked toward the river's edge. I discovered that there was a mowed walking path along the river which I followed. It lead up hill to a woodland hiking path bordered by what used to be farm fields. Along the entrance to the hiking path were some beautiful white blooms hanging from three trees. I picked a few just because the scent was incredible. An hour later I was flipping through my Peterson's Guide looking for another plant that I had come across, and there was the exact picture of the blooms that I had picked (this never happens). I nibbled on one bloom to see if it tasted like what was described and it was! They were so good that on my way to Target I kept reaching over to pluck a few more to eat. Of course I stopped myself since I was not 100% sure of what I found. I then went home and researched the plant and today I went back to study the tree and the leaves to confirm that what I had found was Black Locust Blossoms. I must say, these are my favorite find so far!
The scent of these flowers are similar, in my opinion, to lilacs with a bit more of a vanilla side. If you cross their path, it will stop you in your tracks to locate the origin of this most incredible smell. The taste is similar to their smell. It is slightly sweet with a fresh crisp texture. I never thought I would enjoy eating flowers so much! The blossoms are the only edible part of the tree. My guide said that they made great fritters so I plucked a bag full and took them home! Apparently they only bloom for about two weeks and then they are gone. Today I could see about a quarter were already drooping with age, a quarter had yet to bloom and the rest were in perfect blossoms. So now is the best time to get these! Even my kids thought these were awesome, both raw and cooked.
The tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) has the rare quality of being a fast growing hard wood. It likes poor soil and disturbed areas. It is exceedingly drought tolerant. The wood is resistant to rot and extremely durable. It is actually one of the hardest and heaviest woods found in North America. It is estimated that the wood can last up to 500 years when exposed to wet conditions and 1,500 years in dry environments. It burns very hot and slowly with little smoke. The autumn color of the tree is a soft yellow.
If you are fortunate enough to locate this tree and blossoms, give this recipe a try!
1 loose (not packed) gallon baggie of Black Locust Flower blooms with stem
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons sugar
4 level teaspoons baking powder
2 cups milk
juice of 1/2 lime
oil for frying
Place blooms in colander and gently rinse to remove any stray insects and dust. Shake and allow to drain for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, add oil to pan and heat to medium high.
In a mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and mix. Add milk, eggs and lime juice. Mix until well moistened. If the batter is thick, add a bit more milk.
Take the blossoms by the picked end stem and dredge through the batter mixture on both sides. Drop or place into the heated oil. Fry until both sides are a light brown. Lower temperature if they are browning too fast. Remove and put on plate with paper towel to drain.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot.
More than feeds a hungry family of six!