In our latest blog we take a look at one of the slightly bizarre but nutritious edible plants in the form of Nasturtiums. Not something we think of to eat but that’s exactly why we are covering it in this blog. Read more here about its hardy character and surprising health benefits.
The nasturtium is probably one of the most edible plant that one can get their hands on – and one of the easiest to grow and look after too. Any pot, filled with any mildly nutritious light soil, and seeded with nasturtiums will grow a small forest of these hardy peppery plants. They even have mild drought resistance too – handy for this dry summer.
The best part of these flowers is the eating, however. And it’s truly an experience – the peppery mildness of the nasturtium reminds one of watercress, but behind the foliage and pepper tastes there’s a delicate sweetness which is even more present in the 100% edible flower. The ‘spur’ of the flower, which is delicate hollow point behind the petals, usually contains a droplet of honey-like nectar – if the bees haven’t got there first.
The flowers work great in garnishes and salads, brightening up plates but also providing a surprising kick of nutrition, including a notable amount of Vitamin C in the colourful petals. Throw the flowers straight off the plant and onto a salad – don’t forget to check for insects!
The plant’s seeds also make for pretty good fare. If you leaves your flowers alone they will swell into a triangular cluster of three perfect fruits – the plump ‘seeds’ of this plant are large, green and crunchy. Exuding the plant’s token floral spiciness, they work great chopped into slices across the seed, revealing the interior cross section, but can also be pickled, almost like capers.
Chopped nasturtium seed works great as a flavouring or extra crunch in something like a potato salad – thrown in amongst the chives normally added to the dressing. There’s really no limit to what you can do with these – fry them with onions, put in with baked fish, add them to grated cheese and melt onto toast – they’re a truly undiscovered country as far as chefs are concerned.
If you want more nasturtiums, just dry the seeds in an envelope over the course of the winter. They’ll be ready once more next year.
The nasturtiums leaves also have a bit of a reputation as salad garnishes and as salad ingredients in their own right. In the classic style of soft leafy greens, they contain a good amount of iron along with that pungent pepperiness. They’ll give a rocket-like kick to a salad, as well as outdoing themselves inside of sandwiches which are heavy on dressing.
Whatever you choose, give nasturtiums a go this summer – even if it means dropping them on the bare earth. If they get water and enough sunlight, they may just thrive.
To read more about edible plants click here and go to Garden.org for more information.