There are plants that I have to have in my garden. I think that they are mostly plants that were in gardens that I knew as a child. I don’t know why I remember particular plants. The list of my child hood memories includes May Bush, Alyssum, Rose of Sharon, Port Wine Magnolia and of course Nasturtium. I can’t forget the beautiful white fleshed, pink centred cling stone peaches. They were unlike anything that you get in shops.
The nasturtiums took a long time to establish in my garden. The first try I dug them up from a garden where my children lived, they didn’t do much. I next planted seedlings. These were a bit more successful, but nothing stunning, but they had set seed. The following year we had “NASTURTIUMS” spreading down one side of our path. I now have enough nasturtiums to make up much of the green component of a hot compost heap from just pruning the runners across the path and pulling out plants that have spread outside their designated area. They are even growing out of the older compost heaps.
They come up whenever we have a lot of rain and spread everywhere, but they are also much loved by the White cabbage butterfly. I am thinking of getting out the tennis raquet and practising a few forearms each day.
Pickled Nasturtium Seeds (Nasturtium Capers, Poor Mans Capers)
I had seen recipes for “poor mans capers” but didn’t realise that the plants produced so many seeds, or what they actually looked like until I saw a photo of the seeds and went looking. They were everywhere. For our first attempt I made a small jar of them, followed almost immediately by a much larger jar. I really prefer these to capers. No more capers will be bought in this house.
- 100g nasturtium seeds
- 15g salt
- A few peppercorns – slightly crushed
- Herbs such as dill or tarragon sprigs, or bay leaves – optional (I used bay leaves)
- 200ml white wine vinegar boiled with 2 tsp sugar – enough to cover the contents.
- Make a light brine by dissolving the salt in 300ml water
- Separate out the seeds from any stalks or other plant parts and compost the latter. Also discard any seeds which are yellow or brown, these won’t be tender and flavoursome after pickling
- Put the seeds into a bowl and cover with the brine. Leave for 24 hours, rinse and replace the brine for three days (it can stink a bit -change the brine more often if it is too much)
- Drain the seed pods and dry well on paper towel
- Pack them into small, sterilised jars with the peppercorns and herbs, leaving 1cm at the top so the vinegar will cover the seeds well
- Cover the seeds with the cooled vinegar mix and seal
- Store in refrigerator for a few weeks before eating.
Makes 2 x 115g jars.
Use the nasturtium pickles in tartare sauce (homemade aeoli, mustard, chopped gherkins) dips, rice potato or pasta salads, antipasto plates, or serve with smoked salmon.