We’re huge fans of the wondrous nasturtium plant. They’re one of the most versatile plants to grow in your garden/allotment: everything is edible! The flowers and the leaves can be added to give a fiery dose of summer flavour to salads and pestos, and even the seeds can be used as an alternative to capers or dried and used as a pepper substitute. Pollinators absolutely love them and it attracts nasty pests such as black fly and aphids away from your veggies. They’re also incredibly easy to grow and basically look after themselves. What’s not to love?
Seasonal period: The leaves are available from early summer until the first frosts of the autumn. The flowers are available all through the summer. The young seeds can be harvested whilst immature from early summer and the mature seeds can be harvested from late summer to early autumn.
What to eat: Leaves, flowers and seeds.
Flavour friends: Pairs well with any dish that likes a peppery addition.
Storing: The leaves stay fresh for 3-5 days in the fridge when stored in a sealed container. You can also dry and freeze them. The best way to store the flowers is surprisingly not in a paper or plastic bag; glass jars with glass lids are an insider’s secret to keeping most edible blossoms fresh for longer. Pop them in the jar and store in the fridge for up to a week. You can also dry the flowers. The seeds can stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days in a sealed container, then it’s a good idea to get pickling or dry them.
Cooking: The leaves are rich in vitamin C, have a hot watercress flavour and can be eaten raw, steamed or fried. And they make a great pesto! The flowers have a lovely peppery kick and make a tasty addition to the salad bowl or pesto. They can also be steeped in vinegars or vodka, rolled into cream cheese to make a delicious dip, stuffed or dried and used as a spice. The young seed pods can be eaten raw, roasted or pickled and the mature seed can be dried, ground into a powder and used as a pepper substitute.
Medicinal uses: Nasturtium has long been used in herbal medicine to treat an endless list of ailments thanks to its antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, aperient, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, laxative and stimulant properties. From healing wounds, to respiratory infections, scurvy, poor skin and even baldness; you name it, this clever plant can lend a helping hand. Find out more here.
Known hazards: Go easy at first and make sure you are not allergic to it. ALWAYS eat in moderation and do NOT eat this plant if you are, or may possibly, be pregnant.