(July 26) SANTA MARIA, Calif. — Babe Farms Inc. has introduced squash blossoms, which are rarely found at U.S. retail.

Squash blossoms are just that — blossoms from squash vines, said Ande Manos, sales manager. They are considered a delicacy, she said, and have long been a favorite for Latinos and American Indians. The blossoms are picked early in the day before the petals open.

Manos said Babe Farms expects to ship a few hundred cartons of the specialty crop this year.

Manos said squash blossoms taste like zucchini and are often used in salads or stuffed and deep-fried. She said distributors are selling the blossoms to upscale markets. The blossoms will likely be packed until the first freeze, probably in October, Manos said.

Manos said the blossoms come in 12-count hand-packed clamshells and retail for about $6.99. Babe Farms also offers 50-count and 100-count cartons, she said.