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What’s in Season Now: Zucchini Blossoms

What’s in Season Now: Zucchini Blossoms

Before there was a glut of zucchini, there were blossoms; grand, saffron-colored zucchini blossoms punctuating the cool green of the garden with a warm summer glow. A precursor to all that zucchini, the blossoms are often overlooked or considered ornamental. They almost look too beautiful to eat but these tasty seasonal treats are here…then gone, and I assure you, they are not to be missed.

Harvesting, Purchasing and Storing

Each zucchini plant can produce a prolific crop of blossoms, but it’s generally the male flowers that are harvested. Female flowers produce the actual zucchini, while the male flowers provide the fertilization. As long as you leave a few male flowers in the garden, they can take care of all the pollinating. Harvest in the morning, after the flowers have opened, and look for the males that have a thin, narrow stem while the females have a shorter and fatter stem and are attached to the fruit at this point. Male flowers also have a single stamen on the inside. Select blossoms that look fresh and aren’t wilted. Cut from the stem. Store blossoms on a paper towel-lined baking tray or dish and refrigerate. Blossoms don’t keep long so plan on using them within a day or two. I’m told that male blossoms keep for about a week, but I’ve never been so lucky.

Farmers markets and some smaller grocery stores often carry zucchini blossoms. Choose blossoms that appear freshly picked and get them into the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Health Benefits

Like all edible flowers, you’d have to eat a boatload of them to get a real punch of nutritional value, but suffice it to say, zucchini blossoms contain a fair amount of vitamins A , C, E and K and provide important minerals like magnesium, zinc, and calcium. Many recipes call for frying the blossoms, so while they, like the zucchini fruit, are healthy, take care to try other methods of preparation other than frying to enjoy the health benefits.

Eating

What fun little flowers these are! They lend themselves to a variety of preparations from stuffing and frying them to chopping them for salads, stir fry, or soups. Try them in a tofu scramble. Stuff them with quinoa or rice pilaf and bake.I picked my blossoms in preparation for developing a recipe for this post, but didn’t get to them before they wilted, and alas, my garden is now void of those voluptuous blossoms. My intent was to share a recipe for blossoms stuffed with baked almond cheese, dipped in batter, then fried. I know, your mouth is already watering. Mine, too. If I can find more, I will make these. I’m on a mission, so stay tuned!

 

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Compassionate Cuisine, Seasonal Spotlight

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