On the blossom hunt

Eat the blossoms, too.

Eat the blossoms, too.

On May 24, farmer Ed George rang in his first summer squash of the season.

George, who owns and operates The Peach Farm in Winters, grows about 5 acres of 10 squash varieties on a property more reputed for its tree fruits, and he staggers out the plantings to provide a five-month harvest. He put in the first planting in late March. Sixty days passed—plus a few on account of the cool and rainy spring—and now the fruits are maturing just as fast as George and his small crew can pick them.

George is also picking the blossoms, which have come into high demand as specialty items.

I’ve had chefs after me for weeks for the blossoms,” said George, who sells the delicate, papery items to high-end restaurants, mostly in San Francisco. Here, too, Italian- and Asian-American market-goers seem particularly keen on buying and utilizing the flowers.

But George brings only a few blossoms to the Saturday Davis Farmers Market each week, where shoppers, he says, haven’t quite caught on to the savory wonders of the squash blossom.

At Sacramento’s farmers markets, squash blossoms are more readily available, though the cool spring has held up the local crop by about a week, and some growers are reportedly still waiting to harvest.

For those who give squash blossoms a try, George sells them at six flowers to the dollar. To make something of them is conceptually simple—cram full of goodies and cook—but requires a degree of finesse: George recommends to “stuff the heck out of the blossoms” with shredded chicken and pork, caramelized vegetables, sundried tomatoes, basil and corn. Baste them with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, he advises, flipping them at the 10-minute mark, “and you’ve got yourself a heck of an appetizer.” Or, he suggests, “shoot the blossoms up with goat cheese” and lightly fry—and even the most militant meat eaters will stop to smell these flowers.