My husband, daughter Stephanie and I could not wait to begin a new chapter in our life by moving to Southwest Florida after vacationing on Sanibel and North Captiva Islands for over 20 years. Although there are no regrets while enjoying beautiful sunsets, shelling and never having to shovel snow from our walkways, we unanimously agree that the smell and feel of autumn is sorely missed. Yes, raking all those leaves is not something we pine for but the weekend visits to our favorite local farms, the taste of apple cider, determining who will make it through the corn maze first this year and of course, finding the perfect pumpkin.
While my family searched high and low for the classic shape color and size worthy of our carving skills, I searched for beautiful bright yellow flowers attached to the pumpkin and squash vines. Mr. Henry Dykeman of Dykeman Farms in Pawling, NY would hand me a brown paper bag and watch as I surveyed his beautiful farm for these golden beauties. He would ask how I planned to prepare them for my family and nod in approval. Ahhhh. The memories of returning home with all of our farm treasures and knowing the next few hours would be spent cleaning and cooking these delicacies which became a family tradition.
Moving this story fast forward to Florida, I would venture to farm stands and ask if they could order pumpkin or squash flowers for me. They would politely look at me as if to say “What are they and why do you want them?” I am eternally greatful to John, the owner of Pair-A-Dice, my local produce store around the corner from my home for knowing what pumpkin and squash flowers were used for in cooking and for always going the extra mile whenever I ask him for something out of the ordinary. My advice is to find a caring produce provider like John and give these a try. You may find yourself creating a new tradition to welcome fall.
Note: I reference Pumpkin flowers but squash/zucchini flowers will work as well. Squash flowers are smaller in size but offer a similar delicious seasonal taste. Enjoy!
- 25 Pumpkin Flowers
- 3 Large Eggs
- Dash of Cinnamon
- 1 cup Whole Milk
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour sifted
- Vegetable Oil for Frying
- Sea Salt & Pepper for Seasoning
RECIPE: 2 Forks
Rinse each flower individually under cold water. Remove the stem. Gently, open the flower and pull out the stamen. Rinse the inside of the flower with cold water. I prefer to break one side of the flower and lie them flat on a paper towel for drying but some prefer to keep the flower intact which is important if you planned to stuff the flowers but not for this recipe. Pat the flowers dry with a paper towel.
Whisk the eggs, milk and dash of cinnamon, salt and pepper to taste for the egg bath in a shallow 9 inch pan or baking dish.
Have your flour ready in a similar 9 inch pan or baking dish.
*For frying 25 flowers, I prefer to use my 9 inch All Clad skillet. This skillet allows me to fry the flowers in 4 – 5 batches and use less oil in the process leaving you less cleanup too 🙂
Dredge the clean dry flowers, one at a time through the egg mixture and then dredge them through the flour. Place on a cookie sheet.
*Note: I use a Silpat on my cookie sheet. If not, Parchment paper works well.
Heat the oil in the skillet on Medium to High Heat #5 – #6.
Drop the pumpkin flowers one at a time in the oil and lower the heat to #4 for a golden coat. You do not want them to cook on high heat continuously which will result in an over-fried brown coating. Watch them carefully and turn them over once the ends of the flowers begin to cook/sizzle. Remove them with a slotted spatula and place them on a clean Silpat cookie sheet. Note: I typically use paper towels to absorb the oil but in using less oil in a smaller frying pan/skillet at a reduced temp, I eliminated the need to absorb excess oil.
While warm, grind some fresh sea salt and even a very small dash of cinnamon for taste.
Store the pumpkin flowers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days or in freeze them in an airtight container among layers of wax paper up to 3 – 4 weeks. I have made pumpkin flowers in mid to late October and managed to preserve them as an accompaniment to our Thanksgiving meal. Simply defrost the flowers for 10 minutes. Spread them on a Silpat cookie sheet and warm them in a 325 degree oven for 7 – 10 minutes.