Along the Grapevine

Maple Leaf Fritters

13 Comments

 

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Our lawn is covered in mostly brown leaves which have fallen from our sugar maples on the front lawn. Except for a few which I will rake up to cover some of my delicate plants, they will stay there till spring, get chopped up in the first mowing, and return to the ground as a kind of natural fertilizer. It never had occurred to me to collect any of these leaves as a source of food until I came across this article about a Japanese recipe for fried maple leaves in a sweet tempura batter. In this article they had the advantage of Japanese maple, which is a much more defined leaf, but I decided to use what I have, which is sugar maple. If you have Japanese maple leaves, you might want to try them – the result is so pretty. Just look at those pictures.

I was understandably hesitant, and did a fair amount of research before undertaking this experiment. I found no references to maple leaves being poisonous to people, but some are very bad for horses. If you at all curious or doubtful about the wisdom of  ingesting these, you might want to look into it further. This article and this one are a good place to start.I checked first that the flavour of the leaves was not too unpleasant, just a nibble at first, and found it really didn’t taste of anything at all. A little more, and I could detect a slight bitter taste, but less bitter than I expected. I have no idea what the nutritional value is of these leaves, as I only read that if you are lost in the woods and starving, you can safely eat them, so I presume they have some substance, but as I was planning to make what amounts to a kind of donut, nutrition wasn’t a big concern. The leaf is just a handy way of giving the fritter an attractive shape and a bit of vegetable texture.

For the batter, I came up with a delicious sweet tempura, very light and easy to make. I will hang on to this one for other fritter recipes, such as apples.

Collecting the leaves was a little more difficult. Of course, you need to find trees which have not been chemically treated or exposed to heavy pollutants, so backyards are your safest bet. I chose smallish leaves which were still intact and not dried or shrivelled.

Maple Leaf Fritters

  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

12 (approx.) maple leaves, clean and stems removed

1 cup flour

3 Tbsp maple or other sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 egg

ice cold water

oil for deep frying (I used coconut)

Method

To make the batter, mix the flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda. Beat the egg, which should be cold, with enough water to measure one cup.  Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients until combined, but do not over mix.  Dip one leaf at a time in the batter until completely covered. Fry in hot oil, approximately one minute on each side. Remove and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little sugar of your choice. Serve warm preferably.

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Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

13 thoughts on “Maple Leaf Fritters

  1. I saw that article! Clever you for making them. What a beautiful job you did.

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  2. I love your maple fritters! They look so good and beautiful pictures 🙂

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  3. Really? We can eat maple leaves?? Wow, I would never go hungry then, as I am surrounded by them! Hmmm…I think I am going outside right now for a little nibble! I’ll keep you posted :/

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  4. What beautiful fall treats…thanks for sharing. I had not thought of eating maple leaves

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  5. I saw that too and didn’t actually think to try it. Were you not impressed by the idea to salt the leaf for a year? x

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    • Actually, salting the leaves sounds like something I would like to try. After all, just about anything can be preserved in salt. Not sure why it should take a year, but maybe I’ll give it a try.

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  6. I had no idea that maple leaves were edible! The fritters look so pretty too! Thanks for sharing.

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    • I think there are two reasons we don’t eat the leaves: one is that they are not good for horses, so probably are presumed to be bad for all mammals. Also, I can’t say they have any particularly great flavour, but the batter tasted great. It’s not something I would make often, but it was fun to do once anyway.

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  7. Well Hilda I am sure glad you lived to tell the tale! The fritters are beautiful, seasonal and look absolutely tasty. If ever I was made to survive in the wild, I sure would hope you were nearby. You should write a forager’s book!

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