Prolific and Peppery
This is One Plant
At first glance, it might seem like a rather everyday flower, but the nasturtium is no ordinary plant. It has the power to seduce with its simple beauty and its amazing taste. To say nothing of its far-reaching vines. Yes, the plant shown above is one plant! And I’m willing to bet there are close to a hundred blossoms on it.
I put this one plant in the vegetable garden for colour, pest control and a salad ingredient. Perhaps you have never eaten a nasturtium flower or leaf, but indeed, all parts are edible. And delicious.
All parts of T. majus are edible. The flower has most often been consumed, making for an especially ornamental salad ingredient; it has a slightly peppery taste reminiscent of watercress, and is also used in stir fry. The flowers contain about 130 milligrams (2.0 gr) vitamin C per 100 grams (3.5 oz), about the same amount as is contained in parsley. The unripe seed pods can be harvested and dropped into spiced vinegar to produce a condiment and garnish, sometimes used in place of capers.
The name Nasturtium comes from the Latin nasus tortus, meaning “twisted nose”, in reference to the effect on the nasal passages of eating the plants.
I like the taste very much and have at least one flower and stem per day. The leaves are best when young and small. Perhaps it helps keep sinus issues at bay?
You can see by the photo below that something else also likes to nibble on the petals.
Snuggling with the Swiss Chard
And below you see the only risk in eating the flowers — the ants will compete with you. Before you take them inside for your salad, you should give them a shake to be sure to get rid of these critters. Like me, they love the sweetest part — the tail-end of the blossom, so I always check there before I pop them in my mouth. In this image you can tell that there is at least one ant inside the long funnel, and another two on the outside. Giving instructions? Sharing the bounty?
No Tweeting, texting or Skype-ing for these guys. Their secrets are safe from the NSA.
Ants Love Them Too
Brings back memories of childhood when we used to regularly pop the end of the bottom of the flower to drink the nectar. It recall it was pleasantly sweet.I haven’t tried the leaves though.