There's so much to be excited about when summer produce rolls around: cherries, stone fruit, corn! With each week that passes, I see subtle changes in what's available at the farmers market, and the new offerings are never boring.
And one of my favorite things to see? Golden, orange-yellow squash blossoms, piled high and glowing. You might think these edible flowers are really more fancy restaurant fare, but they're actually quite easy and versatile to prepare, so there's no reason you shouldn't pick some up to try for yourself!
What Are Squash Blossoms?
Squash blossoms are also sometimes called zucchini flowers, but they can come from any summer or even winter squashes. They are the edible flowers of the squash plant and usually come in yellow and orange shades. Squash blossoms are soft, delicate, and taste mildly like the squash itself. They are available late spring to early fall.
Picking and Storing Squash Blossoms
Did you know each squash plant has two kinds of blossoms, male and female? If you're growing the squash yourself, the male ones are there to fertilize but never actually produce squash themselves. Males have no pistils, grow on long stalks, and are slender, whereas females grow closer to the center of the plant and have a bulbous end.
This means you don't have to worry that by picking and eating squash blossoms, you won't end up with any actual squash later — just pick the males and you'll be fine, especially since there are a lot more male than female blossoms! (Sometimes female squash blossoms are picked and sold still attached to baby squash.)
- How to tell the difference: The Summer Sex Life of Squash: How to Tell Between Male and Female Squash Blossoms
If you're buying squash blossoms, they can usually be found at farmers markets or upscale grocery stores. It's okay for the blossoms to be limp, but look for tightly closed buds. Due to their delicate nature, they should be cooked or eaten as soon as possible, or you can store them in the refrigerator for a day or so.
Preparing Squash Blossoms
To prepare squash blossoms, gently open the petals and check for bugs, as you might find a lingering insect or even bee in there — you can turn it upside down and give it a gentle shake. Next, remove any pistil or stamen by using your fingers to snap them off.
After you wash and dry the squash blossoms, they're ready to go! They can be eaten raw in salads, sauteed, or one of the most popular preparations is to stuff and fry them, as the delicate petals turn deliciously crispy. Don't be intimidated and feel free to experiment — these happy flowers are summer on a plate!