Nasturtium Guide – Everything You Need to Know About Nasturtiums.
Nasturtium is possibly the most widely known edible flower. They have wildly vibrant coloured flowers that I find irresistible whether I’m painting, cooking or flower crafting. These wonderful plants come in so many different varieties and have an incredible array of sunset colours which are so inspiring.
The exquisite trumpet shaped flowers are beautiful, easy to grow and can be used to garnish food in many different ways. To add an extra bonus they are a great source of vitamin C and used in natural medicines to treat inflammation and infections.
What Part of the Nasturtium Can You Eat?
The nasturtium plant is one of those plants which is completely edible!
The flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds can all be eaten and used in a variety of ways
Uses for Nasturtium Flower
The flowers of course are beautiful, and most people know that they can be eaten.
What does a nasturtium taste like?
They have a slightly floral flavor, with a light spicy or peppery tinge left on your palate at the end. They are very versatile and have an impact particularly as a plate or platter garnish.
How to Make a Nasturtium Salad
Try making a nasturtium salad by adding the flowers, chopped stems and leaves to your usual salad items. The chopped stems of the flowers and leaves are very similar to chives, and adds another little difference to the salad.
You will have a showstopper with the great pop of colour from the unusual floral and leaf addition. You can either pull the petals apart and add as an ingredient, or garnish the top with the whole flower.
A tip I can give is if you’re going to put a dressing on your salad then add the nasturtium flowers on the top rather than folding them in. This will add to the appeal and won’t damage the petals.
Delicious Nasturtium Recipes
There are some really pretty and delicious nasturtium recipes available online. My absolute favourite is stuffed nasturtium flowers. Stuff the flower trumpet with small teaspoons of savoury mousse or a whipped savoury dip. You can make an easy mix of cream cheese, with a touch of crushed garlic and chives, then add some lemon zest, or chopped up lemon verbena leaves. Serve as finger food or a starter to a meal and it will always provide a delightful conversation topic.
The colour of the flower petals can also be used as a dye in flower infused liquids. Make a nasturtium vinegar by soaking some blooms in vinegar and you will find the slightly peppery flavour will diffuse into the liquid. The vinegar will also become infused with the colour of the nasturtium petals. If you’re going to try this, then use a single colour of nasturtium so you get a better colour
Use nasturtium flowers to infuse alcohol. This can be used as a base for a nasturtium cocktail! Soak some flowers in gin or vodka for a decadent-coloured base for a bloody Mary or a martini.
Of course, finish it off with a garnish of a nasturtium flower!
Nasturtium leaves grow to different sizes and can be used regardless of size. The smaller leaves which are tender, pretty and have an attractive round shape, are great for salads and garnishing. Older leaves are also tender early in the growing season, but as the leaf ages it does tend to get a bit tougher and sometimes slightly bitter.
The main flavour of the leaves is that “green taste” of leafy vegs, and the peppery flavour only kicks in after a second or so. The peppery taste pairs well with flavours like goats cheese or dried fruit, so when making your nasturtium salad, add these in for a flavoursome combination.
Fun Ways to Use Nasturtium Leaves
Have a look at Sustainable Holly’s website. She has some wonderful ideas and fantastic ways of using nasturtiums and other edible flowers.
One of her unusual and interesting little ideas is to make nasturtium wraps. Do this next time you have friends around, it’s bound to create some chatter and will give a lot of pleasure.
Use larger leaves as a wrap and for small bite sized snacks and you can use pretty much any savoury filling you like
- small chopped salads
- chicken mayonnaise filling was a great hit.
- Cream cheese also works well
- add in other small edible flowers such as marigold petals, or borage flowers to add to the interest
Here’s another cool idea of how to use nasturtium leaves. Make a nasturtium mini quiche! Use a nasturtium leaf in the bottom of a muffin tray to take the place of pastry and fill with quiche mixture. Fabulous looking and delicious!
Can You Eat Nasturtium Seeds?
Yes, the seeds are also edible and are sometimes known as “poor man’s Capers”. They resemble the caper in appearance and have the strongest peppery flavour of the nasturtium plant. Here is the recipe for Nasturtium Capers.
Nasturtiums are one of the most easy edible flowers to grow from seed. They make a great choice to grow in places where other plants wouldn’t do well. If left, they will very happily self-seed themselves for another eye catching display the following year.
They need little attention and thrive in poor soil, even flowering more abundantly in under fertilized soils. They love a sunny spot and grow wonderfully well when supplied with just enough water for them to flourish.
Trailing nasturtiums in pots are very popular and can be hung in any sunny spot around the garden with bright and beautiful blooms cascading down over the edge of the pots.
Nasturtium as Companion Plant in Your Vegetable Garden
Nasturtiums are such a rewarding plant to grow, not only for its flowering beauty and edibility, but also for the benefits it brings to other plants.
Plant them in your veggie garden as a companion plants to your veggies. Nasturtiums in vegetable gardens are valuable plants that provide a number of benefits as a companion plant. They repel insect pests and are particularly good at keeping aphids from other plants. They also attract bees and other pollinators which helps with the pollination and increase in yields.
They can be used as a ground cover where their trailing characteristic will inhibit weeds and keep a certain amount of moisture in the soil