Posted on 24th Mar 2017
Black locust - Robinia pseudoacacia - In mid spring, the intoxicating odor of flowering Black locusts adorn the streets and wilderness in blankets of sweet honey musk. A smell that can cause people to wander around staring skywards looking for the source that rains such loveliness on them. Black locust are wonderful trees, fast growing hardwood great for soil retention, open enough for birds to play in while baffling sunlight for reprieve on a hot day. Their bright green coin shaped leaves fan out and flicker in the wind, with blackened reticulating bark and clusters of fine white flowers draping down.
The flavours of a black locust are wonderful, fresh and raw, they have a summer pea like flavour; premature flowers will even have a similar bite feel. When used in confections and desserts the aroma of spring flowers and exotic wildflower honey take over and makes them a versatile and flavourful treat. Use in icecreams, as a garnish, candies, as a cordial or syrup. In mixed drinks or baked goods in place of other flower syrups or even honey.
Only the flowers should be gathered and eaten, the leaf and other parts of the tree contain compounds not agreeable with people. Later in the year the tree will produce bean like pods that are not really edible, Some folks will open them up and shell the seed, however this is a difficult process for something that is barely palatable and maybe slightly toxic at best. Black locust often grow on river banks and on hills, they are particularly good at soil retention, harvesting on the side of a hill can make the whole process much easier than grabbing branches and pulling them down. Black locust is native to the Appalachian Mountains and naturalized throughout the carolinian forests and beyond. While the flowers only last about two weeks at best, they are a an important flower for honey production and favoured by bees.
Things to do with Black Locust Flowers
Black locust fritters
Remove stems and bunch together a small handful of the recently opened fresh flowers and coat in batter to deep fry. Finish with lemon and powdered sugar or black locust syrup.
Black locust spritzer
Simple easy and refreshing summer drink just add a couple cap fulls of Black Locust flower syrup to some sparking water or wine, garnish with lemon.
Black locust baklava
Use black locust flower syrup in place of white honey to coat your bakava, this will add a subtle floral note to a popular and versatile dish.