Jump to Navigation

We've moved! The new address is http://www.henriettes-herb.com - update your links and bookmarks!

Nasturtiums, and vinegar.

Botanical name:
Preparations:

Date: Mon, 13 May 1996 21:35:27 -0700
To: The Culinary Herbs & Spices List <HERBS.HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
From: Sherry Rose <sherry.GORGE.NET>
Subject: Nasturtiums

When I was at a fancy restaurant several years ago, I was served a salad of greens and nasturtium flowers. To my surprise the nasturtiums were exceedingly tasty, with a peppery, deep flavor. I've since learned that the leaves are also edible.

I understand that they're not easily transplanted and that nursery-grown ones may have systemic pesticides, etc., in them which make them not so good for eating. This year I replaced some really nice soil in my herb barrel with some sand and I planted some nasturtiums. Well, they actually emerged! I have a few questions:

Are some varieties of nasturtiums better for eating than others?

What's the best way to care for them throughout a hot, windy summer?


From: Mindy Vinqvist <mvinqvist.MTA.CA>

Hi Sherry,
I've grown nasturtiums a couple of times now, but always the dwarf jewel mix and in regular potting soil, and always from seed. I didn't realize they were an edible plant until the fall, when the original ones planted had died but had seeded a new crop already (although we have late springs here we seem to also be getting late falls too) - I thought they were tasty and it reminded me of watercress. I don't think it matters what variety you grow, and they really do start easily from seed so don't worry about transplanting, just start your own. It was recommended in my herb book to try making an herbal vinegar from them - pretty and peppery. Somebody asked me the other day to tell them how to make herbal vinegar and I posted to them, but don't know if they got it. In case you've never made herbal vinegar, I will write it here, in case you'd like to try it. The basic recipe came from The Complete Book of Herbs ISBN 1-85967-011-3 (nice book).

Take nasturtium flowers and leaves to fill 2 1/2 cups, plonk into a sterilized jar, add 2 1/2 c white vinegar. Cover tightly and place in sunny spot 4-6 weeks.

Filter with coffee filter, discard the herbs. Heat vinegar until it begins to simmer, but not boil. Place into sterilized jar or bottle and stick a few more fresh leaves and flowers in to decorate. Store in a dark place, use within one year.

(Now, I don't know why they said dark place - most people I know want to show off their herbal vinegars because they are pretty - maybe just have it on the cupboard, not back in the window).


From: Karen Raley <KRaley.GNN.COM>

> Place into sterilized jar or bottle and stick a few more fresh leaves and flowers in to decorate. Store in a dark place, use within one year. (Now, I don't know why they said dark place - most people I know want to show off their herbal vinegars because they are pretty - maybe just have it on the cupboard, not back in the window).

The reason you store it in a dark place is because light destroys both the flavor and the pretty color. It especially destroys the color. So if you have a nice deep red vinegar made from opal basil, for example, or a pink one made from chive blossoms, these lovely hues will turn to a sort of puny tan after they have been in a window long enough. (The chive vinegar turns quickly.)

One other word of advice about making homemade herbal vinegars: try it with your own homemade apple cider vinegar for a really good taste.


From: "Mary E. Hall" <IOMA2.AOL.COM>

> (Now, I don't know why they said dark place - most people I know want to show off their herbal vinegars because they are pretty - maybe just have it on the cupboard, not back in the window).

I'll figure that someone has probably answered this, Mindy, but I'll stab at it anyway. The problem with anything perishable and sunlight is that UV light degrades it. That goes for the colors as well as the chemicals inside that make for subtleties of taste, and it's the same reason that bottles for red wine are dark green although white wine bottles are light--reds will be kept longer than white. (Beer lovers, take heed--the best beers also have dark bottles, and homebrewers use the same.)

UV degredation certainly won't happen overnight, though. Robert's compromise is to closet away his vinegars (anything that strikes his fancy) and take them out early at serving time--the earlier the better if there's company coming. I just wish he'd write the ingredients down, and take the commercial labels off of the vinegar bottles before he puts in the herbs...

By the way, if you've also got pretty wine bottles on display, you might want to consider putting them away somewhere dark and temperature-constant. It all depends on how long you're going to be keeping a given bottle. If you stash a few bottles for convenience in the pretty rack in the kitchen and they get used fairly regularly, you won't notice any differences. But apparently it will make a difference with that special red you get for a wedding present from Uncle Vino the wine conniseur--put that one in the cellar until the anniversary he specifies. I've never bought wine to age, though, so don't ask me.

Emme
who actually got a prize at a (very) small fair for cherry wine once


From: Dunkley <gb81.DIAL.PIPEX.COM>

> I thought they were tasty and it reminded me of watercress.

The latin name for watercress is Nasturtium officinale acknowleding a link between the the two. Perhaps the link is that their taste/aroma will put your "nose in torment" which is what the latin nasturtium means.

Has any one mentioned that you can pickle the immature seeds as a substitue for capers?


From: Andie Woolman <wool84.NIIA.NET>

>Can someone tell what this plant/flower looks like, when it grows, is it an annual, etc? Does the whole plant disappear in the winter or just the flowers? What is its official name?

Actually nasturtiums are a flower. They are an annual. You can grow them directly from seed, or find them at your local nursery. I never realized you could eat them until I subscribed to this list. Now I've got to try them! Nasturtiums grow 12 to 15 inches tall , some dwarf varieties are shorter, others climb to 6 feet if given support and tied when young. Flowers are available in every color but blue, purple, and green. Blooms are sometimes bicolored and may be single, semidouble, or double. The leaves have a distinctly round shape, and the flowers resemble petunias. It's official name is Tropaeolum majus.


From: "Susan L. Nielsen" <snielsen.OREDNET.ORG>

>I've never grown nasturtiums, and would like to---but I'm not sure about the reference to sand--how should I prepare my soil? I have the seeds and plan to sow them this weekend.

Be not overwhelmed. Nasturtiums must be among the easiest, most forgiving, fun and showy annuals in the garden. Poke the seeds in the dirt in a sunny place. Stand back.


From: Debra Teachout-Teashon <teachout.PREMIER1.NET>

>I've never grown nasturtiums, and would like to---but I'm not sure about the reference to sand--how should I prepare my soil? I have the seeds and plan to sow them this weekend.

Don't worry about the soil, plant the seeds in almost any kind of soil and stand back! Pretty easy to grow, the foliage is beautiful, the flowers attract hummingbirds, and leaves and flowers are great in salads.

I also use them as trap crops for the black aphid, although last year there was not a black aphid to be found!

I planted a variegated form this year "Alaska" and put it in a richer soil, since I want more foliage from this form. Have fun with this jewel!


From: Esther Czekalski <E.Czekalski.M.BULL.COM>

The word is that in rich soil Nasturniums will produce more leaf and less bloom. But all things are relative. I grow them in the veggie garden in very rich soil as companion plants (there was some reason I started that practice but I can't tell you what) and since I grow a lot of them, I have plenty of blooms to munch on from late June to October.

I recommend a non-soil potting mix for container growing anyway; It's easier to move around. Sand is heavy but if that's what you have...


Culinary herb FAQ: http://www.henriettesherbal.com/faqs/culi-4-1-vinegar.html
Culinary herb FAQ: http://www.henriettesherbal.com/faqs/culi-2-12-nastur.html


Main menu 2