Zucchini from my garden
Yes, I know this isn’t exactly “foraging” or even all that exciting, but I don’t care. I thought it was pretty cool, and since I took pictures I may as well document the process.
Half his body weight.
Zucchini grows like a weed in our little garden. Dry years, wet years, incredibly wet years like 2009… It doesn’t matter. We get zucchini out the yin yang. After watching chefs on 50 different cooking shows tell me how easy and delicious fried zucchini blossoms were, I decided to give it a whirl. Note: If you decide to do this, you really should fry them up right after you pick them.
There are a surprising number of ways to prepare these things, and after trying a few different recipes over the summer, I found that this is the best one of the lot.
The process is simple: Find the male flowers (the ones on stems with pistels) and pinch off the blossoms once they’ve opened, bring them inside, quickly and very gently wash them off a bit if necessary, dry them if necessary, and put them on a cutting board.
Okay, no problems there. Next steps… Gently remove the pistel from each flower. Cut stems to about 1 inch. Here’s the part that the recipes conveniently leave out: Sometimes, nature mucks up the prettiness and simplicity of this process. Y’know… like with things like squash beetles. Mmmm, delicious.
Now, I grew up with the good fortune of having a large garden available to my family and never ate a store bought vegetable in my youth. I shucked corn and snapped beans like it was my job during the summer (actually, it sort of was my unpaid job, now that I think about it.) So finding little bugs in my food didn’t upset me in the least. But man, these things were plentiful; at least one in every blossom. They are handsome little buggers at least, I’ll give them that.
I just found a very well-written blog post about ridding your garden of these guys, before finding them crawling all over your counter. Check it out. I may have to add her blog to my favorite foodie sites. Anyway, I don’t use any pesticides or anything on my garden, so I’m sure those that do don’t have to deal with these guys, but really… It’s no big deal.
And if you’re really lucky, like me, you’ll have the pleasure of finding this in one of your flowers:
A good old-fashioned honey bee. Wow, we don’t see them around too much anymore. I wanted her to live, but didn’t really feel like getting stung or letting her fly around my house. Oh screw it, I scooped her up in my hand, made it to the door and set her free. Fly! Fly away buzzing bee! Now, back to the task at hand.
Make sure the blossoms are dry. Use a cold-pressed vegetable oil (peanut or grape seed oil are best) – Don’t ever use EVOO. I did once and it’s far, far too heavy for these things. Peanut oil, I found, was the best option of what we had on hand. You’ll also see from the pictures that I sort of pan-fried these things instead of deep-frying them. Eh, Deep-frying in peanut oil requires a LOT of peanut oil. I didn’t have a lot, so I just put a healthy coating on a frying pan and gave it a shot.
The batter is simply 2 beaten eggs, some flour and some salt and pepper. Dip them in the egg, let it drain, roll in flour and fry ‘em up for a couple minutes until they are crisp and golden brown. It’s a bit of a trick to know when they are just right… but you’ll figure it out.
They really are super delicious. Though I can’t imagine how many I’d have to eat to feel sated. Maybe like 400 of them.