Tip: Keep Picking Those Vegetables

Do you know exactly when to pick some of the more popular vegetables? Pick vegetables to keep them producing. Pick green beans when pods are 3 to 4 inches long, but still smooth and smaller around than your little finger. Pick zucchini when it’s less than 5 inches long. Tomatoes are best when left to ripen on the vine, they lose flavor when picked to soon. Cucumbers are meant to be picked before they start turning white on the bottom, remaining all green. Pumpkin last several months when picked after the stem is brown and the pumpkin is mostly orange. If corn cobs feel full through to the top and the silk are dark brown, then grab an ear and snap downwards.

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How to Eat Squash Blossoms

Squash have edible blossoms that you can eat raw or cooked. You can use either summer or winter squash blossoms. Only pick male blossoms because your female blossoms are the fruit producers unless you want to reduce production. Male blossoms are easily distinguished from the female blossoms. The stem of the male blossom is thin and trim. The stem of the female blossom is very thick. At the base of the female flower below the petals is where the squash is developing.

Always leave a few male blossoms on the vine for pollination purposes or self pollinate as you pick. However, there are many more male flowers than female. Harvest only the male squash blossoms unless you are trying to reduce production. If you want less production, then the female blossom can be harvested with a tiny squash growing below the blossom and used in recipes along with full blossoms. Use the blossom of any variety of summer or winter squash in your favorite squash blossom recipe.

To cut squash blossoms, use pruning shears or a sharp knife. It is best to cut them at midday when the petals are open, leaving one inch of stem. Gently rinse your blossoms in a bowl of cool water and store in a bowl of ice water in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. The flowers can be stored up to 1 or 2 days. One way to fix them is to sauté the blossoms in olive oil and garlic for a few minutes and serve. You can also batter and fry the blossoms in a little oil. If you’ve never eaten squash blossoms, you are in for a real treat. Besides, they are nutritious!

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