I went out in the crazy blowing insanity of the day to glean the rest of the seeds off the nasturtium plants. We still have not had a serious frost here in my protected neighborhood, but the highs are only about 45 today, so tonight may be the killer.
While all parts of this watercress relative are edible, I generally don’t eat many of the flowers or leaves, as they’re my decorative window-box planting every year (so I don’t want the plants to look plucked like chickens). My son does eat some of the leaves, and tries to get the other kids to do so, but their peppery flavor is not a neighborhood favorite.
Around late summer, the plants start producing seed in quantity, and at that point I generally gather and dry some for next year’s planting. But the seeds keep coming, and after I read that they make an excellent substitute for capers, I decided to can a little jar or two each year.
The recipe is fairly simple–wash and sort the green seeds and pack them in a half-pint jar, cover, leaving 1/4 inch headroom, with a (heated to boiling) brine made from 3 cups vinegar, 3 cups water, and 1/3 cup pickling salt. Wipe rim, affix lid, process in a simmering water bath for about 10 or 15 minutes.
I think the trailing nasturtiums are the best to plant if you’re interested in doing the caper-substitute recipe because they get so much bigger and produce so much more seed than the mounding types. This “Moonlight” variety trails to six feet or longer over the course of the season, forms big clusters of up to four fat seeds, and lights up the front of the house with its golden blooms.