Fritters are among the world's great foods, re-invented many times over. The basic idea is you make some batter, you cover pieces of food in the batter, and you fry it until it's delicious. There are many possible variants on this theme - savoury, sweet, spicy and so on. Almost all are remarkably tasty. None are particularly healthy.

The fritter is a slightly messier, fattier cousin of the dumpling. A fritter without anything but batter in it is just a pancake, and sometimes the lines are pretty blurry on that front.

I was raised on corn fritters, made with tinned sweetcorn stirred into a batter of wheat flour, milk and eggs, but you don't need any of those things to make good fritter batter. In fact, the single easiest way to make fritter batter is just to add water slowly to gram flour (besan, or chickpea flour) mixed with some baking powder and whatever spices you like. This is the usual way to make pakoras and onion bhajis. It makes a fairly crispy batter, largely thanks to the baking powder - it's the bubbles that do it. It also works well for a kind of vegan, gluten-free tempura, if you make it a bit runnier and go heavy on the baking powder.

You can also make good batter with many different combination of bread flour, potato starch, rice flour and corn flour - I haven't found a mix yet that doesn't work, though some flours come out dry and dense on their own. For fritters with a little bit of stretch to them, you need something that's sticky like milk, eggs or gluten - I've had good results with soy milk, ground flax seed and egg replacer, separately or together. I like to spice my batter - cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, black pepper... again, I have found so many different combinations that make delicious fritters, I don't quite know what to recommend besides experimentation. Herbs are good too - parsley is a classic addition.

Recently I have been turning assorted leftovers into fritters. Last night's big supper tasty enough, but not something you fancy eating again just as it was? Stir in enough flour to make it look like batter, with water if it's not wet enough without it, add some cumin or something if you're worried the flour might make it too bland. Then scoop dollops of the stuff into a hot pan, and fry it. Bang! Fritterised.

Like most foods, fritters are even better when deep fried, but if you prefer, you can also shallow fry them without very much oil at all, especially if you use a non-stick pan. Either way, it's probably a good idea to drain them on kitchen paper - or bread - to get some of the oil out before you serve them.

For those who like to read about specifics, perhaps with actual recipes, here are some from around Everything2 - note that most of these could be easily adapted to more specialist diets with the advice above.

Fritter is a word I almost never use, unless it is about time that I have wasted, as in "you have frittered your life away." Maybe that sort of fritter is spelled differently. I really don't know.

OK. So maybe after reading the writeup above by Webster 1913 I do know.

If my wife sets off to the store, asking as she departs, if I want anything brought back, I might casually mention that I would not mind if she brought me a cow pie. It has never failed that the object she returns with is eatable, and more gastronomically pleasing, than an actual cow pie. What is more, I have been calling these things cow pies for as long as I can remember, and have yet to have anyone misunderstand. At least, not in a meaningful way. Now that I think about it. Not even in a non-meaningful way.

I live in Tucson, Arizona, and have for the past 40 years. Thing is, out here in the southwest we cannot picture John Wayne saying, "gimmie one of them fritters." We can, however, picture him with, "Say pilgrim, how about you giving me one of them cowpies."

I suppose the important thing here is context. The conversation is usually already directed toward foodstuff, and typically to some sort of treat. Possibly even the generic idea of doughnut has already occurred in the conversation. The only question I have ever been confronted with after the mention of a cow pie in this context is, "apple or blueberry?" Such a response is a clear indication that there has not been a failure to communicate. So, how about a cow pie?


For alternate views on Cow pie, Please see here as offered by DonJaime, or here and here as offered by Oolong, AKA Oolong.

Frit"ter (?), n. [OR. fritour, friture, pancake, F. friture frying, a thing fried, from frire to fry. See Far, v. t.]


A small quantity of batter, fried in boiling lard or in a frying pan. Fritters are of various kinds, named from the substance inclosed in the batter; as, apple fritters, clam fritters, oyster fritters.


A fragment; a shred; a small piece.

And cut whole giants into fritters. Hudibras.

Corn fritter. See under Corn.


© Webster 1913.

Frit"ter, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Frittered (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Frittering.]


To cut, as meat, into small pieces, for frying.


To break into small pieces or fragments.

Break all nerves, and fritter all their sense. Pope.

To fritter away, to diminish; to pare off; to reduce to nothing by taking away a little at a time; also, to waste piecemeal; as, to fritter away time, strength, credit, etc.


© Webster 1913.

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