Growing Zucchini? Cook Those Blossoms

Rare is it that a home gardener has grown something that they don’t know what to do with in the kitchen. Yet if you have summer squash growing in your garden, chances are that you have something popping up this time of year you may not be utilizing: zucchini blossoms.

Zucchini and other squash grow both male and female flowers. It’s part of their reproductive process, like any other pollinating plant. The male flowers are the ones to eat — they are distinguishable as the flowers growing off of long, thin stems. The females are those that develop directly into the burgeoning squash, so leave those alone unless you are trying to halt production of your vegetables.

Zucchini blossoms differ than most “edible flowers” in that their flavor actually parallels their stunning appearance. We’ve all eaten eye-catching flowers in soups and salads that have an unfortunate bitter or grassy flavor. Zucchini blossoms, on the other hand, are mild and squashy, and when eaten raw they are as delicate as velvet and lace, but when fried, they develop an addictive crispness.

Bare in mind that zucchini blossoms will begin to wilt and wither as soon they leave the plant, so harvest them just before food preparation. Use pruning shears or sharp knives to cut the blossoms, leaving an inch of stem intact. Gently (very gently!) rinse in cold water and leave in an ice bath until ready to use — at best 1 or 2 days, at worst 1 or 2 hours.

Who knew a garden could be so, well, edible?

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