9.10.12 Budding Talent (Pickled Nasturtium Buds)
photos by gluttonforlife
Did you know that nasturtium means "nose-tweaker"? This lovely massing plant produces a rather sharp oil, similar to that of watercress. Tropaleoum, as it's formally known, has showy, brightly-colored flowers and proliferates wildly all summer long in even the most neglected gardens. It's an edible plant, and the flowers are often tossed into salads where they impart a pleasantly peppery bite. The unripe seed pods—which can best be observed by picking up the massing plant and examining its underside—have a rather more intense flavor, almost like horseradish. They can be pickled in a simple brine and used as you would capers, or any spicy pickle. This means they pair well with cheese, or can successfully be tossed into anything eggy or creamy.
Of course they're not really buds—they're seed pods, as I mentioned above—but I like to call them buds, and some other people do, too. They form small clusters which can be broken apart or left stuck together. I will often eat a few raw as I stand in the garden contemplating all the weeding I have to do. Some of them can be rather sinus-clearing. In herbal medicine, nasturtium is used for its antiseptic and expectorant properties. It's rich in vitamin C.
in a pickle
By now you're probably fairly proficient in whipping up a brine, no? Boil vinegar with spices. Maybe a little salt and/or sugar. Toss in a chile if you want. That's all you do here. I've provided a simple recipe, but you can obviously adapt it as you please. Some fresh herbs would be nice. Maybe tarragon. Or a couple of bay leaves.
Add your pickled nasturtium buds to a salad—and throw in a few flowers, too. Or toss the buds with hot pasta and some cubed fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle them over a prosciutto pizza. Or offer them on an hors d'oeuvres tray alongside some runny cheeses and salted nuts. A little something fresh and unusual from your garden. Or your window box. Nasturtiums are both giving and quite forgiving.
Pickled Nasturtium Buds
— nasturtium buds
— 2 cups vinegar (white, white wine, Champagne or cider)
— 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
— 1 tablespoon green peppercorns
— 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Rinse the nasturtium buds well, being sure to remove any dried plant matter that may be clinging to them. Set aside to drain.
In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, spices and salt and bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
Place nasturtium buds in a jar and pour brine over. Seal, cool and refrigerate. Will keep in the fridge for a long time. As you pick more nasturtium buds, you can just toss them in the jar.