Cooking With Squash Blossoms

| 7/28/2014 10:47:00 AM

Karrie SteelyIn mid-summer, big yellow flowers are the first sign that you’ll soon be knee deep in squash and zucchini. You can eat the blossoms from summer and winter squash.

The plants produce both male and female flowers. The male flowers are usually more numerous, closer to the main stem of the plant, and do not bear fruit. You can tell them apart because they have pollen-bearing stamen and are usually smaller than the female flowers. The female flowers tend to grow on the vines or farther from the main plant, and are usually bigger. There is a little proto-squash at the base of the female flower, which will develop if it’s pollinated. Their lady part (that needs to be dusted with pollen to be fertilized to make squash) is called a pistil.

Squash Blossom 1

baby zuchinni

The blossoms start to open around 8:30 in the morning. They close up again in the late morning, so timing is important when harvesting. Don't pick the female flowers unless you want to thin your squash harvest. Pick the male flowers, but leave 1 or 2 males for the bees to do their job. To ensure a higher yield of squash, you can pollinate the female flowers with the stamens from the males. It may seem a little kinky, but you're just doing what the bees do anyway. Speaking of bees, watch out for them. They usually fly away as soon as you disturb their flower, but they’re not happy about it.