Zucchini Blossoms 101

Zucchini Blossoms

The golden-orange blossoms of the zucchini plant, predecessor to the zucchini vegetable, are a delicacy in both Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines. These bright summer flowers have a delicate, earthy flavor with grassy undertones that pairs best with cheese-based ingredients. Zucchini blossoms also make a wonderful garnish for soups and rice salads. A good source of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals responsible for boosting immunity and overall heart health and supporting bone density and healthy skin and eyes, raw zucchini blossoms are a health-supportive addition to any summertime meal.

Identification

Zucchini blossoms are the flowers of a zucchini plant. The blossoms have long, pointed petals that close inward. At the stem end, the petals are light green and turn golden yellow or vibrant orange at the tips. Zucchini blossoms are paper thin and very light, with a smooth, velvety texture.

The female blossoms are the fruit-bearing flower of the zucchini plant. They are attached to a lean, cylindrical fruit—the baby zucchini.

The male blossoms attach to a plain stem. Their flowers are larger than the female zucchini blossoms, making the male flower the preferred zucchini blossom in culinary preparations.

Taste

Zucchini blossoms have a subtle grassy and earthy taste, faintly reminiscent of zucchini. When eaten raw, they have a pleasant crispy texture.

The delicate flavor of cooked zucchini blossoms pairs well with cheese and ricotta, boiled eggs, and mushrooms.

Availability

Zucchini blossoms are available all year round at local farmers’ markets, but are rarely found in supermarkets. Their shelf life is very limited, so some grocers ask you to pre-order the blossoms.

Season

Zucchini blossoms flourish in late spring and summer.

Selection

Choose zucchini blossoms that are tightly closed and have green, fresh stems. Preferably, buy zucchini blossoms that have been picked on the same day. Select male zucchini blossoms for larger and sturdier petals.

Avoid buying zucchini blossoms with wilted petals and dry stems.

Organic Benefits

When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen” . These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides. Summer squash, which include zucchinis, are currently included in the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list. Therefore, choose organic whenever possible, or visit local farms that may not be organic, but grow produce with minimal agricultural chemicals.

The Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress, however, that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.

Storage

Since zucchini blossoms spoil quickly, it’s best to use them on the day they are picked. Alternatively, place zucchini blossoms in a tightly sealed bag and refrigerate, making sure they aren’t squashed by other items in the fridge. Consume refrigerated zucchini blossoms within two days of purchase.

Preparation

Rinse zucchini blossoms in cold running water on low pressure. Check the gaps between the petals for any residing bugs. Lay out the blossoms on a paper towel and pat them dry. Using your fingers, gently detach the yellow stamens from the center of the male flower.

Zucchini blossoms are served both raw and cooked. Raw blossoms are added to salads or eaten fresh on their own. The most popular way of cooking zucchini blossoms is to stuff them with ricotta or rice. Zucchini blossoms are also fried in garlic and oil, or chopped and added to fillings.

Nutrition Summary

Potassium

Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.

Vitamin A

A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin A is involved in the development of rhodopsin, a molecule in the eye that promotes healthy vision. Vitamin A is also responsible for promoting the immune system, cell growth, skin health, and the formation of the heart and lungs as well as other bodily organs.

B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)

An important nutrient necessary for normal cell division during pregnancy and infancy, folic acid (vitamin B9) plays a powerful role in the developing infant. For adults, vitamin B9 is also essential for proper metabolism, aiding in energy and the production of red blood cells.

Vitamin C

This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.

Health Benefits & Medical Claims

Zucchini blossoms contain the same nutritional value as their fruit. They are a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin A helps maintain healthy eyes and skin and is an antioxidant that resists viruses and bacteria, thus strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant needed for healthy body tissues, gums, and teeth.

Little Known Facts
  1. In Mexico, zucchini flowers are used in a variety of dishes, including soups and quesadillas.
  2. Stuffed zucchini flowers served with yogurt is a traditional dish in Turkey that dates back to the Ottoman Empire.
  3. For healthy zucchini blossoms, you need calcium-rich soil. Low calcium leads to quicker rotting of both the flower and the vegetable.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Yoffie Life disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.