Squash blossoms are the big, satiny yellow or orange, and edible flowers of the pumpkin, squash, and zucchini.
You can use them as a tasty garnish on crêpes, fruit salads, soups, and quesadillas. You can also stuff and bake them, stuff and serve them raw, batter and fry them, or use them as wrappers.
One tasty squash blossom serving is a mix of prosciutto, mozzarella, basil, and pepper—about a tablespoon’s worth—folded and stuffed into each blossom, dipped in a batter, and fried in hot oil until they become golden brown.
Lightly and lusciously tasty!
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The squash blossoms you are most likely to find in spring will be zucchini blossoms, but it won’t be much later that the blossoms of winter squashes and pumpkins will come along. As long as squash, zucchini, and pumpkins are flowering in your region, squash blossoms are in season.
Now, when it comes to squash blossoms, there is one very important but simple question: is it a boy or a girl?
Male blossoms grow from the branches of the squash; female blossoms bear fruit. Male blossoms will be downy, even hairy to the touch; female blossoms will have a soft, fleshy ovary center behind the blossom—which develops into the fruit; the male won’t.
Why is this important?
Well, it may be a matter of taste. Some say the male blossom is preferable because the lump of squash ovary is not there. Easier to prepare and eat.
Others say the female blossom is not only plump but succulent. This fruitier blossom is delectable.
One thing is for certain, there are more male flowers than female flowers on each plant, and the male flowers keep longer. Fruitier female squash blossoms spoil quickly and should be prepared and served on the same day they are picked. Male blossoms will keep a few days.
Male blossoms appear first. The female flower will contain a 4-part pistil in the center.
If you are harvesting your own squash blossoms, here’s a tip: pick them early in the morning when they open towards the sun. That way you can see what you are getting. Later in the day, squash blossoms close, and they sometimes trap insects.
You can prepare, sauté, or deep fry, and serve squash blossoms in 10 minutes or less.
Squash blossoms—yellow-orange and delightfully bright–are a summer delicacy; they must be picked, cooked, and served on the same day.
If you have more zucchini or other summer squash than you can eat, store, or give away, pick and serve squash blossoms—they have a subtle squash flavor and will give you a tasty relief from the bounty of summer squash on the vine.
Choose these blossoms
Select large blossoms that look fresh and aren’t wilted. Squeeze lightly behind the blossom to know if it is a male or female blossom.
Zucchini and summer squash flowers are edible as are other squash flowers including pumpkin flowers and winter squash blossoms.
Blossoms that are tastiest
Female flowers are soft, fleshy, and succulent; these are the flowers that have a small fruit attached to them at the stem end. Male flowers have no fruit attached to them; they are attached directly to the stem or branch of the vine; male flowers are hairier and more plentiful. Squash plants produce both female and male flowers on the same vine, so you can choose which you want to pick for cooking. If you want to grow squash plants just for the blossoms, grow the variety ‘Butterblossom’; it produces only oversize male flowers and no squash.
When to pick blossoms
Pick squash blossoms on the day they are about to open for the first time; these will be the most tender and succulent. But you can pick blossoms that have been on the vine a day or two as well. Pick blossoms early in the day just as they open with the new day and before insects begin to visit. Pick blossoms on the same day you plan to prepare and serve them. Squash blossoms are quick to wilt, so it is best to prepare and cook them the same day they are picked.
How to store blossoms
Squash blossoms are very perishable. Blossoms will keep overnight if kept cool and moist; set them in layers between dampened paper towels and seal in a plastic container. Stuffed blossoms can be stored the same way.
Arrange them on a papertowel-lined tray, refrigerate, and use within one day.
Male blossoms will keep for 1 week at 50ºF (10°C) and 2 to 4 days at 40ºF (4°C). Chilling injury will occur if held for several days at temperatures below 50ºF (10°C).
You can also freeze, can, pickle, or dry squash blossoms. If cooked, blossoms will store in the freezer for 6 to 8 months.
How to prepare blossoms for cooking
Open the blossom and inspect for insects. You can gently rinse blossoms with water if you find an insect or dust. You can pull off and discard the dark green calyx or petal base, but you don’t have to. Where the blossom meets the calyx is the most fleshy and tasty part of the flower.
How to sauté squash blossoms
Heat butter in a pan until it foams then lay each blossom in the butter; sauté on each side for about 2 minutes. Drain the sautéed blossoms on a paper towel. Now they are ready to serve. Serve blossoms on a plate with a thin vinaigrette made from balsamic, champagne, red wine, sherry, or white vinegar.
How to deep-fry squash blossoms
Dip blossoms in a flour and water batter and deep fry them for 3 to 4 minutes. You can deep-fry blossoms as they are or stuffed.
- Batter: Use 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar. Whisk these dry ingredients together. Then mix-whisk ½ cup milk, 1 egg, grated nutmeg to taste, and grated zest into the dry ingredients. Let the batter rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using. This batter will be enough for a dozen blossoms.
- Deep-fry: Deep fry the blossoms in 2 quarts of peanut or soy oil heated to 365°F; be sure to use a heavy, deep pot and fill it no more than one-third full with oil. Place the lightly battered blossoms in the heated oil for 3 to 4 minutes; afterward, let them drain on a Stuffing: Before deep-drying squash blossoms you can stuff them with meat, seafood, or cheese. Use goat, soft mozzarella, or ricotta cheese. Use salmon, shrimp, lobster, or a variety of chopped or ground meats. Mix chopped dill, marjoram, lemon thyme or chives, scallions, or chopped green peppers with the stuffing. Do not overstuff blossoms.
Other ways to serve blossoms
- Chop raw blossoms and stir them into a risotto.
- Use squash blossoms as a garnish raw on crêpes, green salads, fruit salads, soups, and quesadillas.
- Stuff blossoms with rice or minced meat and fry in batter. Prepare the meat and rice and batter before picking the flowers. The flowers will wilt quickly.
- Stuff blossoms with soft cheese, cooked and crumbled sausage, then bread and fry or bake.
- Dip blossoms in a flour and cornstarch batter and fry until brown and crunchy.
Articles of interest:
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