Nasturtium Varieties, Culinary Uses and Nutrition

FR: Capucine, Cresson d’lnde GER: Kapuzinerkresse IT: Nasturzio

SP: Capuchina, Nasturcia BOT: Tropaeolum majus FAM: Tropeolaceae ILL: Plate 10, No. 3

This common garden annual came originally from Peru. It is grown all over the world for its orange or yellow trumpet-like flowers and will thrive in almost any sunny situation. Although commonly known as nasturtium, it is no relative of watercress (formerly Nasturtium officinale), but the leaves have a cress-like flavour and are excellent in sandwiches and salads.

The buds, flowers and seeds of the nasturtium develop the goaty taste of capers when they are pickled. It is best to pick the fruits every few days, still green, and before they get too hard. After washing and drying, put them in a bottle of strongly salted vinegar. They develop their excellent new flavour in about a month and are then regarded as a substitute for capers. In fact, the flavour is not quite the same, nasturtium seeds are more pungent and the buds milder.

Nasturtium vinegar can be made by packing the fully blown flowers in a bottle and covering with vinegar flavoured with a little shallot, garlic, red pepper and salt. The nectar-containing spurs are a delicacy.

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