Go to some of the best restaurants – or visit a local farmer’s market in spring or summer – and you’re likely to run across squash blossoms. These are, quite literally, the flowers from squash plants. This may seem like a strange thing to eat, but the blossoms have a squash-like flavor and have been eaten since time immemorial. Whether fried or stuffed or trimming a salad, squash blossoms are one trend no one should miss. Because they won’t stay a trend for long – they are that good.
The flowers of squash don’t stay fresh for long. One day they are crumbled up, then next they open, the next they shrivel up and start turning brown. It might seem, then, that squash blossoms would be pricey, but because squash plants are highly prolific, they are generally quite affordable.
If you grow your own squash, you know you usually end up with much more than you can eat. Consider the removal of the blossoms a way of limiting your crop. Or choose to only pick male flowers, once you know the female flowers are pollinated.
Farmer’s markets are also an excellent place to find fresh squash blossoms.
Plan on eating the blossoms the same day you purchase or pick them. Incidentally, most people consider zucchini blossoms to have the best flavor. Some varieties of winter squash blossoms are rather bitter.
Squash Blossom Prep
Before you bring the blossoms indoors, give them a good shake to release most insects or dirt. Store the blossoms in an open plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator – but don’t forget about them. The blossoms start turning mushy within a day or so.
To prepare the blossoms for eating, rinse them in cold water while checking them for insects or bits of soil. Shake the flowers well to remove excess water. Cut off the green stem, but don’t go overboard. Don’t remove any part of the base of the flower if you plan to stuff them.
Handle with Care
The only real difficulty when cooking with squash blossoms is their fragility. They rip and tear quite easily, so if you’re stuffing them, great care must be taken.
Cooking Squash Blossoms
Probably the easiest way to cook squash blossoms is to fry them. Whether deep fried or pan fried, they are scrumptious. Try this simple recipe for Fried Zucchini Flowers; I recommend chilling the batter for about a half an hour before dipping the blossoms and frying them.
Another easy way to cook squash blossoms is to make quesadillas. Make cheese quesadillas as you normally would, and add the blossoms before frying. Or try Squash Blossom Quesadillas.
Stuffed squash blossoms are also very popular. To prevent handling them any more than necessary, some cooks use a pastry bag to insert the filling. Try that when you cook Squash Blossoms with Sage Butter and Ricotta.
Have you ever tried eating squash blossoms? What did you think?
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