I would like to try selling squash blossoms next year to add to my usual crops that I sell to a few restaurants. Does anyone have any suggestions regarding variety, harvesting and price?
The biggest I've seen come from 'Costata Romanesco' summer squash. I get .50 - .75 each for them from my restaurant accounts. They are a little harder to handle/sell at market - I usually ask people to pre-order.
Had one lady tell me that she just moved here from Syracuse NY, where she got them for $1.00/ quart at market there. Wow!
I always harvest them for market in the morning right before market (by flashlight.) before the blossoms open they are less likely to have a bug in them.
We found that if they have a lot of stem they do not sell well, but if they have no stem they do not keep well. Solution, pick with the stem and wrap ends in wet paper towel and pull them off as you put them out. Also we often on very hot days just put out a sign as they don't last long in the heat. We also suggest people use them within 48 hours.
We sold them for .25 to .50 depending on size. We had someone ask us how much for a pound! We had no clue what to tell her. She ended up buying a paper bag with 25 blossoms for $7.00. That was quite a few blossoms.
i grew costata romanesca for them. i picked them the morning of the market. i sold them for 50 cents a piece. i had no trouble selling whatever i brought. even when they wilt refrigeration perks them back up. if you are selling them at a farmers market be prepared with recipes. i never had printed ones but told people how i prepared them and suggested using the internet to find recipes.
i cut them with the stem as long as possible.
Another nice variety to grow for flowers are the zuchetta types (friuli, tromba d'albenga). They are running plants (will go 25 feet) and produce huge numbers of very large blossoms. If you run them along a fence, they are very manageable. Produce a mighty good squash, also, assuming you pick them small.
Bill McKay in E. Massachusetts
I've found that crookneck blossoms are smallish and flimsiest, though the zephyr (a hardier plant that grows much longer for me than crookneck) has a larger, sturdier blossom. I personally like zuccini blossoms, though they are not as prolific in male flowers as other summer squash, because they have a narrower, tubular shape and are stiffer (for better handling). Some of my favorite blossoms have also been the butternut or other winter squash... large size, good quantity, good cup-shaped flower that would hold a lot of stuffing.
I've sold blossoms weekly to only the one finest restaurant in my area... not many chefs are willing to put in the labor on them even though stuffed blossoms are fantastic appetizers, selling very well. I've supplied 80+ blossoms a week for several months, at $.25 each. They are very quick to pick; I sometimes hold one day's harvest for one day and add more to it the next day, and deliver together... as long as they are continuously refrigerated, there is no problem with them lasting. They don't look as good after a day or two, but if they are being deep-fried, that doesn't matter.
I have had problems with ants in the blossoms, but the buyer has always been willing to dunk them in ice water to clean them out.
I'd like to bring blossoms to market, too. Can you tell me - those who do it successfully - how you process them? And, do you sell them individually? or in bags? How do you keep them fresh?
This may be a stupid question. Are you harvesting and selling only male blossoms? We grow costata for market and it seems like a waste to pick the females.
i sold blossoms at the market for a while. i just used the males from costata. they wither quickly in the air. i tried packing them in plastic bags and cooling them. no matter. they didn't sell very well after the initial curiosity wore off. i think these are better suited to restaurant sales. most folks don't know what to do with them.
FWIW ... The typical Mexican "flor de calabaza" is from the "Mexican gray squash", which is a lot like a zucchini or a vining summer squash.
You need a rampant grower with a lot of blossoms.
They are usually sold as male or female flowers, with the female flowers bringing a higher price because of the attached squash-to-be. Often they are the entire tendril, stuck in a vase to keep them fresh.