Squash plants are prolific providing us with fruit and flowers all summer long. Click on other images to enlarge and read captions.
You can eat both male and female flowers. The female flowers appear on the end of the fruit, while the males grow upright on the stems.Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
Bees pollinate all day long, flowers are wide open in the morning, half closed at noon and totally closed by evening--so it is best to harvest early in the day or by noon--otherwise you may bring in a buzzing overnighter.
The golden orange blossoms from these annual vegetable plants are a summertime treat. The blooms of all types of squash–zucchini, yellow crookneck, patty pan, winter squash, and even pumpkin–can be used, though they do vary a little in size and time of bloom.
Plants produce both male and female flowers. The squash grows from the female flowers, which will often already have a small fruit on the end when you are ready to pick blossoms. If you have an abundance of squash or want to slow down squash production, harvest both male and female blossoms. Otherwise harvest mostly male, leaving a few in the garden for pollination.
Using a sharp knife cut the male flowers leaving a few inches of stem or cut the female flowers below or above the fruit. Flowers on stems can be stored in a glass of water until ready to use, or flowers can be prepared and kept in the refrigerator between damp paper towels for a few hours. To prepare the blossoms, snip the stem close to the flower or cut the flower from the base of the fruit and remove. Rinse them carefully; they often have insects inside. Remove the stamens and stigmas from inside of the flowers and gently pat them dry.
Squash blossoms taste vegetable-like, slightly of raw squash, with a vague flowery smell. They are an Italian specialty when stuffed with cheese and fried in a light egg batter, or they can also be stuffed and baked. They are delicious sautéed at the last minute with squash dishes, eaten alone, or tossed with pasta. Squash blossoms can be cut into chiffonade or used whole and added to egg dishes, stir fries, soups, vegetables, and salads. Try this delightful recipe for Fried Squash Blossoms.
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