Saturday, May 04, 2013

South Slope flowers, Part 3

I once lived in a cabin on a cliff overlooking a lake. Beside my stairway up to the road, a pair of giant Big Leaf maples grew, towering far above my roof, providing shade in the hot summer, creek-clogging leaves in the fall. The trunks were deeply grooved, several feet across; moss and ferns grew in the upper branches. And on warm summer days, happy voices filtered down to me from above; small boys as much at home up there as on the ground. I was tempted to climb the tree myself, but left them to their adult-free paradise.

Even a young Big Leaf can be glorious, especially in spring;

Acer macrophyllum. Flowers, and the unfolding new leaves.

The dangling racemes of flowers can be up to 6 inches long. The leaves may grow well over a foot across, big enough to serve as a sunshade, or even a makeshift umbrella in a sudden summer squall.

I didn't know this: the sap can be used to make maple syrup. It takes about 34 litres of sap to produce 1 litre of syrup.

The flowers can also be eaten in salads, in soups, or in pancakes or fritters. Dad used to make fritters with elderberry flowers every spring; now I must try them with Big Leaf maple flowers.

Wild Foods and Medicines has a good recipe.

1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt and herbs or spices of choice
2 eggs beaten
¼ cup milk (cow, rice, almond, or even water if you do not have milk)
¼ cup oil for frying (sunflower, sesame, safflower, and coconut are favorites) 
In a bowl, mix flour with salt and herbs or spices.  In another bowl, whisk eggs with milk.  Turn a medium sized sauté pan on medium-high heat and add oil.  Once the oil is heated, dip maple flower clusters in the egg mixture first, then dust them with the flour mixture, and place them in the pan.  Place 4-5 in the pan at a time.  When the fritters are golden brown, flip them and let them brown on the other side.  Let them drain on paper towels.  Serve hot.

Go to the big leaf page for variations and more ideas.

A Skywatch post.


  1. Interesting information - beautiful photo!
    Have a great day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  2. Nice pic plus I learned some interesting information this morning.

  3. I knew it takes a lot of sap to make maple syrup, but I did not know it was that much...
    No wonder the stuff is so expensive!!!
    I love the various blossoms in your next post!!!

  4. Yes, interesting information. I did know about the large amount of sap needed to make syrup. But it is oh so good ;-)

  5. We used to make fritters of the elderberry blossoms - I had no idea about the Big Leaf Maples - I'll have to give that a try. Your photos are gorgeous.


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