Squash Blossoms

Squash blossomsSquash 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!

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.

Choose. 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.

Store. Squash blossoms are very perishable. Arrange them on paper towel 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.

Prepare. Open and inspect squash blossoms for insects before using them. Pull off and discard the green calyxes surrounding the bottom of the blossom. Clean blossoms by gently swishing them in a bowl of cold water. Shake them dry. Trim or snip out the anthers or style.

Serve. 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.