A couple of years ago our eyes were opened to the wonderful world of edible squash blossoms. Naturally, we wanted to try a recipe for ourselves. Before scarfing down the tasty flowers, we had to know how to harvest squash blossoms without hindering the production of the delicious fruit.
This is how we harvest squash blossoms:
Know the difference between male and female blossoms
Female flowers are the only flowers that produce squash, so it’s best to pick males. You just don’t want to pick all the male flowers so there can still be pollination for fruit production. Telling the difference between the two blossoms is pretty clear.
Females have fruit budding on the end and are located closer to the center of the plant.
Males grow on the outer side of the plant with longer, thinner stems. They tend to be a little showier and have hairy petals.
When to pick
I’ve read both morning and midday are the best time to harvest squash blossoms. Personally, late morning is my sweet spot. It gives the bees a chance to make their morning rounds, and the flowers have shed the morning dew yet have not begun to wilt.
Gently open the flower and clean out any bugs. Remove the green calyxes from the base and remove the anthers from the inside the flower. Gently rinse with water. Some recipes call for whole blossoms, so try to keep them intact through the cleaning process.
How to store
Ideally, the squash blossoms should be used shortly after being picked for prime flavor. If that’s not possible, they can be kept on a paper towel lined tray in the refrigerator to be used within 24 hours of picking.
How to eat
There are a lot of ways to eat squash blossoms. The first time we had them was at a Nashville restaurant stuffed with a cheese mixture. The first time we cooked them up ourselves was in a taco recipe from The CSA Cookbook. Both were fantastic.
Squash blossoms can be added to salads, soups, and quesadillas. They are versatile and can be cooked in many different ways. These are just some of the recipes that caught our eye: