Squash and Zucchini blossoms- when should I pick them?

My mom has some Japanese squash, zucchini and eggplant plants. This season has been a bit disappointing, but the plants are flowering and I was thinking of picking the ones that aren't fruiting. I've seen talk on here about eating the blossoms.
My question: When/what size should I pick them? Before cooking, do i need to prepare them a certain way?

One of my reservations is that the squash plant and flowers are rather prickly.... any suggestions?

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