Squash Blossoms are edible flowers that can come from either summer or winter types of squash. The colours range from yellow to orange.
The flavour will be similar to the squash that they were grown from.
Both male and female blossoms are edible, but if you pick off the female ones, you won’t actually get any squash later on, as it’s the female ones that produce them. The stems of female blossoms will always be far thicker and will have a bulge below the petals. Don’t take off all the male ones, or there’ll be none left to cross-pollinate the female. Male blossoms have coarse “anthers” in their centre. A female one can be harvested once its bulge has turned into the start of a baby squash; just twist it off the stalk.
Squash Blossoms are best harvested first thing in the morning or at least before noon. Choose ones with closed buds, though ones with buds that are still closed in the afternoon are already just about past it. Ideally, harvest the blossoms when they are still a bud or just barely starting to open. Choose ones at least 3 to 4 inches (7 1/2 to 10 cm) long if you plan to stuff them.
Harvest with a sharp knife, sturdy scissors or pruning shears. Leave one inch (2.5 cm) of stem on them. Watch for bees inside as you harvest them, especially in the morning. Bumblebees who didn’t make it back to the nest in time last night might have bunked up in one overnight.
Squash Blossoms will always be soft and limp, even if fresh.
Good varieties for flowers:
- Costata Romanesco (high proportion of male blossoms)
- Butterblossom Zucchini (lots of male blossoms)
Squash Blossoms can be used fresh in salads, either sliced thinly or whole. A popular way to cook them is to batter them and fry in oil. They are often filled with a soft cheese first.
In Mexican cooking, they are often used in soups and quesadillas.
The anthers in male Squash Blossoms will get tough after the flower has blossomed, and get slimy in storage. They are best snipped out with a pair of kitchen scissors before storing.
Store in the fridge in a plastic container, but not in a plastic bag. For maximum storage life (up to 2 days): rinse, let air dry, wrap in paper towel, put in sealed plastic container, store in vegetable crisper (best temperature is 34 F / 1 C). Otherwise, use within 1 day.
Squash Blossoms get brown and slimy if they get wet after harvesting.
They can’t be frozen, but you can chop them up and use them in dishes that then get frozen.