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A fritter is a fried, edible accompaniment to a meal, and comes in two distinct forms: battered, and cakes.

Battered Fritters

A deep fried Mars Bar

The first type of fritter is an edible object which has been coated in batter and deep fried.

In the UK, such fritters may be purchased form a chip shop along with battered fish, chips and mushy peas. Alternative names for fritters in different parts of the UK are:

  • Scallops (Merseyside Region)
  • Scones (North East of England)
  • Batch Cakes (Northern Lancashire)

Other notable types of fritter are:

  • Spam fritters - proprietary brand of spiced ham
  • Banana fritters - Normally the whole banana is coated in batter and deep fried
  • Pineapple fritters - cored pineapple, cut into rings
  • apple fritters - cored apple, cut into rings.
  • Onion rings - sliced onion separated into individual rings.

In Glasgow, it is possible to obtain almost any food, deep fried in this manner. Specialties there include the deep fried Mars Bars and deep fried pizza.

The batter-frying technique was introduced into Japan by the Portuguese and Spanish in the late 16th century and the tempura that developed involved a mixed fry of shrimps, herbs, and vegetables. Fritto misto is an Italian dish of bits of meat, seafood, and vegetables dipped in batter and fried in olive oil. A specialty dish of various local cuisines is the flower fritter, using daylilies, roses, violets, acacia, elder blow, and squash blossoms.

Fritter Cakes

A different type of fritter occurs in the cuisines of many countries: the French beignets, Italian bigne, and Greek loukoumades are small cakes made with batter mixed with and another (main) ingredient and fried. The Indian pakora is a savoury deep-fried cake containing bits of cauliflower, eggplant, or other vegetables. Beignets are common in Louisiana especially during Mardi Gras. In other parts of the United States, corn fritters and apple fritters are favorites, and New England clam cakes, Maryland crab cakes, and Philadelphia scrapple are essentially varieties of this type of fritter.

Fritter is also the name for a type of doughnut, with apple flavoured ones being the most popular.

Origins of the name

The word fritter derives from the Latin frictura or frictus (past participle of frigere, meaning to roast). This has come down to us via the Anglo-French friture and the Middle English fritour.