Squash Birth Control- Squash Blossom Recipes

Squash blossom pizza with grilled corn

If you never have eaten a squash blossom, go down to the nearest farmers market and pick up a bag and try them out. Even better, grow a few plants in containers or in a garden to pluck them fresh off the plant. They are a wonderful addition to summer menus. I grow squash, not only for the vegetable, but for the flower. And when you pick the young squash at a certain point, you get both the veggie and the blossom, and that is the best of both worlds.

Baby squash with blossoms attached

To eat them, I slice the squash in half and fry them up, put them on pizza, stuff the blossoms with goat cheese, and make latkes or fritters.  You could also cut them up into ribbons or a chiffonade and drape on top of a pasta dish. There are countless ways to enjoy the yellow trumpets that emerge from the plants all summer. Here is a great pasta dish using blossoms: Pasta with Squash Blossoms.

P1060410
Pick the blossoms first thing in the morning

Also, consider this as birth control for squash. It reduces your yield tremendously when you really don’t need another 20 zucchini or yellow squash cluttering up your refrigerator. When the squash comes in, it is an avalanche!

DSCN2482
Big variety of summer squash

The trick is to catch the squash when it is only a day or two old, has the blossom attached, and is still tender. Or just pluck the blossom before it becomes fertilized and starts a tiny squash.

The blossom is pretty fragile so carefully snip it off, and I like to give it a quick rinse as insects like to lay their eggs on the blossom, namely squash bugs and ants. Bees seem to get drunk on the pollen inside the flower and it is fun to watch them. Make sure the blossoms are bee free. Place the blossoms in the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels for no more than 24 hours to use in your favorite recipe.

 

Early morning is the best time to pick them before the heat of the day wilt them. Shake out any bees that spent the night curled at the base and collect as many as you can. I use both winter and summer squash blossoms and have taken out flowers from my fridge that still have buzzing bees in them that awaken when taken out into warm air. So, be careful about examining them carefully first.

Open the flower, and snip off the stamen in the center as this is tough.

029 (2)

At this point, you can stuff them with goat cheese or just batter and fry them. My post on stuffed squash blossoms is an easy recipe bound to impress everyone as an appetizer. Blossoms are sublime as a pizza topping. My favorite treatment though is Squash Latkes/Fritters.

Squash blossom latke recipe
Squash blossom latke recipe
Chop the squash along with the blossoms into chunks
Make your batter
Add chunks to your batter
Fry in olive oil on both sides
Serve latkes with sour cream

From Plot to Plate-Squash Sex in the Garden

P1060535
Oven fried squash blossoms served with a blue cheese dipping sauce

My last post on Squash Birth Control showed you how to decrease your squash harvest. But how about if you want to increase your harvest? Maybe you only have one plant to work with and you want to eat squash every night? It is easy to increase your odds of growing fruit as each squash plant bears male and female flowers and you can use this to your advantage without the help of pollinators. You become the pollinator!

P1060402
An early morning harvest of squash blossoms, mostly male, but a few female ones

Most gardeners look at their squash plant blooming and see tons of flowers and start making plans for all that squash, pulling out recipes for squash bread and zucchini cake. Over the next week, you see with chagrin the blossoms fall off, some with small squash attached and wonder why? In reality, most of the flowers are male flowers and produce no fruit and pollinate the much fewer female flowers.

003
An open female flower and a fertilized one that is starting to grow a squash fruit

Learning to distinguish between male and female flowers on the vine will help you figure out what your true harvest will be. Both male and female flowers occur on each plant and pollen from the male flowers has to make it to the female by way of insects or hand pollination. This is where the gardener can lend a helping hand.

The video below shows a snapshot of morning activity of flying insects in my squash blossoms. I have three hives so there is always lots of visiting bees to my flowers. But everyone doesn’t maintain bee hives and you can increase your odds of your squash flowers getting pollinated even in an urban situation by simply hand pollinating.

P1060511
Here you can see the difference: The female flower on the left with the enlarged center, the pistil, and the male flower on the right which carries all the pollen grains

The first week or two it is normal for the blossoms to fall off as only male flowers are produced and then the female flowers start opening. For pollination to occur you need bees- native, bumble, or honey bees and other insects, or a handy Q-tip!  If there is a dearth of bees, pollination is a lot less likely to occur, but not to worry- this is very easy to do yourself.

P1060531
Removing all the flower petals from the male flower, touch the pollen bearing anther to the stigma of the female flower

Simply take the petals off of a male flower and use the ‘brush’  or exposed anther and brush it against the stigma of the female flower thus transferring the pollen manually and ensuring that the female flower grows a fruit. You can also perform this with a Q-Tip very easily in the vegetable plot. I prefer to fertilize directly with the male flower and go to each female flower that I see, brushing the anther against the stigma of the female flower. Fertilization is necessary for fruit formation. If fertilization does not occur, the ovary  or little squash will wither away. The squash flower below on the right has successfully been fertilized and is starting to grow.

P1060526
On the bottom left is the male flower; top middle is a female flower; bottom right is a female flower that has closed up, pollination has occurred and the squash fruit is starting to grow

Male flowers greatly out number female ones and I take advantage of this and pick baskets of male flowers for recipes. Of course to cut your harvest, simply remove the fewer female flowers which can also be used in recipes. Just remember to cut off the center part, the stigma bearing part, as this can be tough. For recipes, check out Squash Birth Control-Squash Blossom Recipes.

P1060393
A bee and a cucumber beetle in a squash blossom

Here is one of my favorite recipes-Oven Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms. Instead of messy deep-frying, I like to cook them at a high temperature in the oven. Serve with a dipping sauce, like a blue cheese mix.

P1060494
Baked stuffed squash blossoms ready to eat

recipeee

 

P1060482
Mix all your ingredients in a bowl
P1060487
Stuff cheese into blossom
P1060489
Blossoms all stuffed,ends twisted, ready for breading
P1060491
Breaded and ready to pop into the oven

Squash Birth Control- Squash Blossom Recipes

Squash blossom pizza with grilled corn

If you never have eaten a squash blossom, go down to the nearest farmers market and pick up a bag and try them out. Even better, grow a few plants in containers or in a garden to pluck them fresh off the plant. They are a wonderful addition to summer menus. I grow squash, not only for the vegetable, but for the flower. And when you pick the young squash at a certain point, you get both the veggie and the blossom, and that is the best of both worlds.

Baby squash with blossoms attached

To eat them, I slice the squash in half and fry them up, put them on pizza, stuff the blossoms with goat cheese, and make latkes or fritters.  You could also cut them up into ribbons or a chiffonade and drape on top of a pasta dish. There are countless ways to enjoy the yellow trumpets that emerge from the plants all summer. Here is a great pasta dish using blossoms: Pasta with Squash Blossoms.

P1060410
Pick the blossoms first thing in the morning

Also, consider this as birth control for squash. It reduces your yield tremendously when you really don’t need another 20 zucchini or yellow squash cluttering up your refrigerator. When the squash comes in, it is an avalanche!

DSCN2482
Big variety of summer squash

The trick is to catch the squash when it is only a day or two old, has the blossom attached, and is still tender. Or just pluck the blossom before it becomes fertilized and starts a tiny squash.

The blossom is pretty fragile so carefully snip it off, and I like to give it a quick rinse as insects like to lay their eggs on the blossom, namely squash bugs and ants. Bees seem to get drunk on the pollen inside the flower and it is fun to watch them. Make sure the blossoms are bee free. Place the blossoms in the fridge wrapped in damp paper towels for no more than 24 hours to use in your favorite recipe.

 

Early morning is the best time to pick them before the heat of the day wilt them. Shake out any bees that spent the night curled at the base and collect as many as you can. I use both winter and summer squash blossoms and have taken out flowers from my fridge that still have buzzing bees in them that awaken when taken out into warm air. So, be careful about examining them carefully first.

Open the flower, and snip off the stamen in the center as this is tough.

029 (2)

At this point, you can stuff them with goat cheese or just batter and fry them. My post on stuffed squash blossoms is an easy recipe bound to impress everyone as an appetizer. Blossoms are sublime as a pizza topping. My favorite treatment though is Squash Latkes/Fritters.

Squash blossom latke recipe
Squash blossom latke recipe
Chop the squash along with the blossoms into chunks
Make your batter
Add chunks to your batter
Fry in olive oil on both sides
Serve latkes with sour cream

Edible Flower Palette

Edible flowers are frequently for sale at farmer’s markets but most people are hesitant to take the plunge and actually use them in cooking.

Variety of edible flowers from the garden

Garnishes – yes, but actually eating flowers??? For most people that is a different story. But flowers can add a lot to the flavor as well as  appeal of a dish.  Go to Squash Blossom Latkes  to see what you can do with squash blossoms. Also, go to African Blue Basil to check out this great flower that makes a wonderful pesto. All basil flowers are edible.

African Blue Basil makes a great pesto
African Blue Basil makes a great pesto

 Edible flowers definitely add taste and flavor to a dish.  Bean blossoms actually have a beany flavor.  Nasturtiums, one of my favorites, have a peppery flavor similar to watercress, and their pickled buds can be substituted for more expensive capers. True blue borage tastes like cucumber, and  pansies have a lettuce like taste. For a crisp butter crunch lettuce taste, try daylilies. Maybe that is why deer like daylilies so much.

Collecting edible blossoms from the garden
Collecting edible blossoms from the garden

 

Top 20 Edible Flowers

Edible Flower chart from sugarandcharm.com
Edible Flower chart from sugarandcharm.com

 ( list obtained from http://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/top-20-edible-flowers-from-garden-to-kitchen/)

  • Nasturtium

  • Angelica

  • Anise Hyssop

  • Bachelor’s Button *

  • Bee Balm

  • Calendula/Marigold

  • Carnations

  • Chamomile *

  • Chervil

  • Pansy

  • Chrysanthemum

  • Clover

  • Dandelion * {eating ‘em puts a whole new spin on ‘weeding’}

  • Fuchsia

  • Gladiolus *

  • Hibiscus

  • Impatiens

  • Jasmine

  • Lavender

  • Lilac

“Only the petals of these composite flowers are edible. The pollen of composite flowers is highly allergenic and may cause reactions in sensitive individuals. Sufferers of asthma, ragweed, and hayfever should not consume composite flowers, and may have extreme allergies to ingesting any flowers at all.” ~ Source HomeCooking/About.com

 

Edible blossoms-borage, nasturtium and chives, pansy, gladiolus, cardinal basil, daylily, pansy
Edible blossoms-borage, nasturtium and chives, pansy, gladiolus, cardinal basil, daylily, pansy

 

Uses

Beautiful cake decorated with roses and borage blossoms, made by Maria Springer of http://www.majaskitchen.com/
Beautiful cake decorated with roses and borage blossoms, made by Maria Springer of http://www.majaskitchen.com/

Edible flowers as a garnish make any dish look special on your table, but be sure the flavor of the flower compliments the dish. Here are a few ideas to beautify your recipes and perk up your taste buds:

  • Place a colorful gladiolus or hibiscus flower (remove the stamen and pistil) in a clear glass bowl and fill with your favorite dip.

  • Sprinkle edible flowers in your green  and fruit salads for a splash of color and taste.

  • Make edible flower ice cubes. Go to http://diana212m.blogspot.com/2013/02/jazzy-take-on-water.html

    Ice cubes with edible flowers

  • Use in flavored oils or vinegars, like chive blossoms in vinegar which gives it a pretty pink  blush color.

  • You can use them in salads, teas, garnishes, ice creams, etc. Lavender ice cream anyone?? It is delicious!

     

     

    The ultimate edible flower-lavender
    The ultimate edible flower-lavender

 Never use non-edible flowers in your food as guests will think that they can eat it. Poisonous flowers abound in your garden and be careful what you use!

When you pick your blossoms, keep them fresh by rolling up in a moist paper towel and keep in the refrigerator no more than a few days before using.

Be creative!

Roll the blossoms in a moist paper towel and store in the refrigerator