Squash blossoms can make for a delicious treat. During the summer, when the colors are brightest, the sun is shining, and we are looking for something light and tasty, the squash blossom can fit the bill. Taking a trip to the farmer’s market to find your favorite fruits and veggies will no doubt entail the squash blossom.
That orange/yellow squash, golden in color, can almost call to you. Though they may seem like nothing more than flowers, they are not only edible but quite versatile and easy to prepare. If you have not had them before, treat yourself the next time you visit the farmer’s market.
But it is important to know more about the squash blossom. Knowing what it is, how to store it, how to prepare it, and so much more can give you a better idea of what you have been missing out on. First, we need to know what they are.
What Are Squash Blossoms?
They are also known as zucchini flowers, but they can come from both summer and winter squashes. They are the flower portion of the squash plant, and they are totally edible. Usually, they will come in a shade of orange and yellow.
Because they grow on the squash, they will have a taste that is mildly reminiscent of the squash itself. The squash blossom is delicate and soft as well, so handle with care. Generally speaking, they will begin to bloom as early as the late spring and can continue to do so into the early portion of the fall.
Storing Your Squash Blossoms
Depending on where you live, you may be able to pick some squash blossoms on your own. Generally, you would find them at a market of some sort, cutting out the middleman and allowing you to get the freshest squash blossoms possible.
You can also grow them yourself relatively easily. Keep in mind there are actually male and female squash. The males don’t actually produce any squash; they are meant to fertilize. They are slender, grow on long stalks, and don’t have pistils. The females, meanwhile, will tend to grow closer to the center part of the plant and will have those thicker, bulbous ends.
This makes it easy if you decide to grow squash on your own. The males will produce the squash blossoms and you can leave the females to produce the luscious squash later on. Even better, there tend to be way more male than female blossoms, though there can be female blossoms as well.
When you buy or pick them, it is okay if they are limp. Take a look for any closed buds, though. Because they are so delicate, they need to be handled carefully. Not only that, they should be cooked or consumed as soon as you possibly can.
If you are planning on storing the squash blossom, they will last for maybe a day in the fridge. Gently place them in an air-tight bag or container before placing them in the fridge. Providing them a moisture-free environment may allow for up to another day of storage, but that is generally pushing it.
The squash blossom is meant to be consumed right away, so if you plan to prepare it, you will want to do it as soon as you can.
How to Prepare the Squash Blossom
If you are ready to use it in a meal, you will need to open the petals up to check for bugs. Do this as gently as you can because the squash blossom can become damaged very easily. There is a chance that there is a stray bug or even a bee hanging out in there. Just turn the squash blossom upside down and shake it gently. This should disperse any bugs remaining inside.
After you are confident that the bugs have been removed from your squash blossom, remove the stamen or pistils left over. You can use your fingers to snap them off. Continue to handle the blossom as delicately as you can to avoid damaging and ruining it.
When you’re done with that step, it is time to wash the squash blossoms off. Use a gentle stream of water to do so and then make sure that they are thoroughly dry. When you’re finished, the squash blossoms are ready to be used.
They make a great addition in any salad, can be sautéed, and can even be stuffed and fried. The petals will turn into this crispy, delicious treat that you didn’t even know existed. You can even get experimental with your squash blossoms and see where they work best.
How to Freeze Squash Blossoms
If you like to grab squash blossoms in bulk, there is good news: you can freeze them. Squash blossoms can keep in the freezer for months at a time if they have been wrapped and stored properly. Thankfully, that is an easy process and you can stockpile these delicious flowers for later use.
First, make sure that you get them early on in the morning. Longer exposure to the sun and they can begin to wilt. You also need to make sure they are dry because excess moisture can lead them to rot.
Take your squash blossoms out of the box or container first, shaking them out gently to get rid of any lingering bugs that may be hanging out. When you’re done shaking them out, lay them down on a paper towel so you can remove the wet or wilted blossoms.
Next, lay down a layer of paper towels at the bottom of a plastic container. Layer the blossoms so the end with the flower is in contact with the paper towel. Doing this will allow any moisture that gets produced from the freezing process to be absorbed into the paper towel. This will keep your blossoms nice and dry during their time in the freezer.
Should you have enough squash blossoms for multiple layers, you can do so. Just make sure that when you’re ready for another layer, you lay down another piece of paper towel over the initial layer of blossoms. You can then keep adding your blossoms in as many layers as you need to store them all. When you’re finished, lay down a final layer of paper towel over the top.
Your blossoms are now ready for storage. Make sure the container you use has a good seal to preserve their freshness for as long as possible.
When it comes time to bring them out of the freezer, don’t let them thaw. The blossoms will have retained their golden color but letting them sit out will make them take on moisture. That additional moisture is what will make them shrivel and they won’t be as enjoyable.
The best use of squash blossoms is to use them fresh out of the freezer while they are still frozen. Oxidation will also contribute to their deterioration after they have been pulled from the freezer, so use them as soon as you can to avoid them going bad or wilting. That is all there is to storing and using these delicious flowers.