I think by now most of you are well aware that I am extremely fond of squash, no matter how you cook it. However, I’d never tried the other parts of the plant – the vines and flowers are edible, too! On a trip to the Farmer’s Market I found some pumpkin blossoms for sale at the Hmong Farmer’s stall and decide to give them a try. They were certainly pretty:
They were also surprisingly fragrant, with a sweet scent. (Yes, I know they’re flowers, but not ALL flowers smell in a way humans can recognize)
I researched a few recipes online and ended up using this one – I liked the idea that my blossoms would be like a fritter, and it seemed easy to do with the ingredients I had on hand.
The first bite was mostly breading, with a sort of softness in the middle where the petal was. Pleasant, but unexciting. I got to the end of the flower, and here something went very wrong and very right at the same time.
You see, if you look at the recipe I used, it simply tells you to dip your flowers, as is, into the batter. And so I did. And if you’ve ever made fried pumpkin flowers before, you are shaking your head at my mistake. If not, I’ll tell you what happened when I got to the end of that flower: there was a war going on inside my mouth.
On one side of the war was this lovely sweet taste, like honeysuckle. The very essence of flowers. On the other side was a horrifying bitterness, mouth-drying in its intensity. WHAT WAS HAPPENING?
A bit of further research solved the problem. Here’s another recipe. Do you see a difference?
The “green spikes” the recipe above is telling you to remove are the stamens of the flower. They’re not always green, exactly – the ones in my flowers were more yellow – but they should definitely be removed. It’s the male reproductive organ of a flower, meaning it’s chock-full of pollen. POLLEN IS BITTER, MY FRIENDS. Once I realized my mistake I removed them from the rest of the flowers (easier to do before you bread and cook them obviously) and they were fine, even delicious. The stem ends were a bit nutty and crispy, there was that sweet flower taste, it was all good.
In future I’d like to do them correctly, and maybe try them stuffed! Any of you ever done this? What do you recommend for the stuffing?