Squash blossoms are glorious, golden blooms which are not only attractive, but also good to eat. Harvesting squash blossoms as food requires a little knowledge of the plant's reproductive biology. In order to ensure fruit, you need to know when to pick squash flowers and which ones to pick. Squash blossoms are used as soon as possible but there are some tips on how to store squash blossoms to extend their best flavor.
Information on Picking Squash Blossoms
Flowers from summer squash, zucchini, late-season pumpkins, and winter squash make tasty garnishes or even side dishes. The plants produce both male and female flowers, with a higher population of them male. The female blossoms will become the fruit so in order to preserve your harvest, it is best to pick the male blooms. Being aware of the difference between male and female blooms is important to know when picking squash blossoms. Male squash blossoms are hairier and have a thin base where they attach to the stem. Females have a thick bulge, which is the ovary, where they grow from the plant.
How and When to Pick Squash Flowers
Morning is the best time for harvesting squash flowers. Choose male flowers when they are still in bud form. Male flowers grow first on the plant but the fully formed blooms are hairy and difficult to handle in the kitchen. Female blooms are considered the tastiest but you should minimize their harvest if you want fruit on the plant. Give a gentle squeeze to the back of the bloom when picking squash flowers. This will help you detect the bulb of a female or the flat end of a male flower.
How to Store Squash Blossoms
The optimum condition is to use them the day of harvest. Picking squash flowers and then using them immediately gives you the freshest taste of spring. Squash flowers are very delicate and don't store for long. However, there is a trick on how to store squash blossoms for best flavor and to extend the life of the blooms. Keep them in the refrigerator. Male blooms last the longest and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Either sex will keep best if laid out gently on tissue or a paper towel on a dish or flat container.
What to Do with Squash Blossoms
Now that you have harvested some flowers, you might wonder what to do with squash blossoms. They are flavorful and colorful when used as a garnish on salads. Remove the anthers inside, wash, dry the flowers, and use them whole or chopped. Stuff the blooms with rice, herbs, or cheese when cooking with squash flowers. You can also pickle, deep fry, or can squash blossoms. If you cook the flowers, you can freeze them. Whichever method you choose, prepare the blooms as quickly as possible for best flavor and texture. Harvesting squash flowers is easy and a great way to put the male blooms to use rather than having them simply fall from the plant to waste away.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
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