Nasturtium Tropaeolum majus
Nasturtium makes a great ground cover in a sunny spot, though it will grow in shade as well. The plant grows in poor soils and dry conditions. Nasturtium can help in biological pest control by attracting beneficial insects.
Nasturtium flowers and leaves are edible and have a peppery taste. They can be added to salads or used to garnish meals and desserts. The green seed pods can be pickled to create ‘bush capers’ as in the recipe below.
Nasturtium flowers are sometimes available in edible flower mixes at the Organic Farmers Market. Or you can grow them from seeds or seedlings from the City Farm Nursery.
Stuffed Nasturtium Flowers
- 25 – 30 nasturtium flowers
- 1/2 cup cream cheese
- 100g ricotta
- 1 Tbs chives
- 1 medium clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 cucumber, sliced
- Submerge nasturtiums in water for a few minutes (to remove any dirt or bugs), then place on a towel to dry.
- In a bowl mix cream cheese, ricotta, chives, garlic, lemon zest and salt until smooth and evenly dispersed.
- Using a piping bag, gently squeeze the mixture into the centre of the flowers. Alternatively, use a ziplock bag with its corner cut, or a teaspoon.
- Place each stuffed nasturtium on top of a cucumber slice to serve.
Pickled Nasturtium Pods (aka ‘bush capers’)
from NSCF’s Share Cookbook p 80
- 1kg nasturtium pods, gathered while still green.
- 250g salt
- 5 cups water
- 1L vinegar
- 8 – 10 cloves 2 whole peppers
- 4 pimentos
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 coriander seeds
- Dissolve salt in water to make brine. Soak pods on brine for 24 hours.
- Put all spiced vinegar ingredients into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain the pods and pack in small sterilised jars.
- Warm jars in oven for 10 minutes (or microwave on high for 4 minutes.
- Pour hot spiced vinegar over pods.
- Seal jars and leave for six weeks. Once opened use all the pods in the jar. Do not reseal.