Are Pickled Nasturtiums Better than Capers?
In old cookery books, pickled nasturtiums were often labelled as a poor substitute for capers. While they don’t have that same pungency, they still have that wonderful and distinctive flavour. I think their subtlety is actually better for certain dishes. Many a fish dish has been destroyed by the presence of the powerful caper.
All the very old recipes use vinegar to preserve the nasturtium seeds. This recipe is instead taking a lesson from the best caper producers, who preserve their capers in sea salt – giving a better flavour and texture.
To get a better yield of seeds, it is better to neglect the plant once it has grown to maturity. In its desperate state of neglect it will produce more flowers for you. Harvest the seeds when they are still young and tender, the size of a small caper. You will have to keep an eye on the plant and do this over a course of several days.
With every harvest make sure they are wiped clean of any creatures or dirt, and pack them into a jar with generous amounts of sea salt (I use Maldon). Keep adding to the jar until it is full, packing each layer with more salt. It is important to drain the jar of the excess water and to shake it to make sure every seed is in contact with salt. When you have picked all your nasturtiums and your jar is full you can pack this into a new clean storage jar. Again, make sure you have drained them of excess water so they are quite dry. Store them in a cool dark place for about two months before using them. They should keep until the next year’s harvest.