Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nasturtiums a Food Choice

The first I'd heard of Nasturtiums was on Tawnya's blog as she told about canning the seeds. http://suburbanjubilee.blogspot.com/2011/02/processing-pickled-nasturtium-pods.html

I had never heard of them. Granted, I'm not a big flower person, being that I prefer using the little gardening time I have on a vegetable gardening instead. What can I say, I like to eat. I do like a small flower garden though and I am slowly putting one together in our backyard having torn up the one in the front. So I asked Tawnya what did Nasturtiums taste like. Her reply was -capers. Well, I don't use a lot of capers but I've a few recipes I like them in and they are expensive. Since I use so few, it isn't a big deal to buy them but ... being me, to grow my own imitation variety would be a whole lot more fun. The real McCoy, Capparis Spinosa bush, is grown in the Mediterranean and if something is grown their it isn't going to grow here in Wyoming.
Nasturtiums on the other hand just might do fine. They aren't too fussy they say as they prefer soil that isn't too rich but they don't like their feet too wet and I've a problem that our solid clay soil holds water. The flower garden is amended so they might do well there. I've thought about growing them in my vegetable garden as they are an annual and a good companion to cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and cabbage. BUT, I hauled in load after load of manure last summer - too rich. They say rich soil just gets you lots of leaves and few blossoms. That won't do. Then I wouldn't have my imitation capers since they are from the seed pod. No flower, no seed pod. Not only would I not have the green seed pod to pickle but if you let it mature and dry, you can grind it in place of peppercorns. In fact, that is just what they did in WWII, - resourceful people. One of the reasons I've decided knowledge is the most important thing to have during difficult times. Until I learned about Nasturtiums, I would have thought I'd of had to do without the flavor of pepper.
Nasturtium leaves taste like water cress. What would I do without my water cress and cucumber sandwiches. Okay, I've never had a water cress and cucumber sandwich. I'm from Wyoming after all so I guess I wouldn't miss them never having had one. But who knows, this summer when I taste the imitation, I might just fall in love. I'll have to remember to keep the garden hose handy though as Nasturtiums don't like their feet too wet but if too dry the leaves become bitter and we can't have that. I'd never know what imitation water cress really tastes like. LOL
You know you can eat the leaves and the seeds in two different ways but did you know the flowers are edible too? The only flower I've had is rose pedal and I made rose pedal jelly last summer. YUM!! YUM!! On the net they recommended putting the flowers on a cupcake that had cream cheese frosting. That sound pretty. I wonder what my grand kids will think? Another site recommended breaking the pedals apart and putting them in a salad. I'd say with the leaves of course. But then what do I know since I've never tried any part of the plant.
But first things first I have to find a location for these seeds I found at the local hardware store. They need lots of sunlight as shade produces more leaves than flowers and it's the flowers I'm mainly after. The same goes for too rich a soil I guess as it produces lots of leaves and few flowers. So the flower garden it is for this year. One last little bit of knowledge to share. Nasturtiums are high in vitamin C and with the multiple uses for this nutritious plant, I wondering why haven't I put Nasturtiums in my garden sooner? I tell you, I'm beginning to look at flowers in a whole new light. A flower garden just might become more important as I learn of more edible varieties.
A big thanks goes to Tawnya for blogging about pickling the seeds an peeking my curiosity. Check it out. I've left her link at the top of the page. Now I've got all kinds of adventures just awaiting me this summer with just one plant - the Nasturtium. Thanks again.

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