Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Flowery Pickles.

Yesterday’s story suggested nasturtiums instead of capers to make a sauce to accompany mutton, so has given me an opportunity to address a near dearth of flower recipes on this blog.

Botanically speaking, there are two ‘nasturtiums’. The bright cheeky flower that we commonly call nasturtium is officially Tropaeolum majus. Within the cabbage and mustard family (the Brassicas) there is also a genus Nasturtium which includes the peppery pungent cresses such as watercress and garden cress. It is the happy yellow or orange or red flower (sometimes called Indian cress) that we are talking about today.

All parts of the nasturtium are edible. For a spectacular splash of colour and a peppery bite the flowers can be added to salads, and they can also be used to flavour and colour vinegar, as this mid-nineteenth century recipe shows.

Nasturtium Vinegar.
Pick full- blown nasturtium flowers; fill a wide-mouthed bottle with them; add ½ a clove of garlic and a moderate-sized shalot chopped; pour as much vinegar as the bottle will take; in 2 months' time rub the whole through a fine sieve; add a little cayenne pepper and salt.
Murray’s Modern Domestic Cookery, by A Lady, 1851

The best-known nasturtium pickle however, is that of the seed pods – the alternative to capers for making sauce for your mutton, or putting wherever else you usually put capers.

Nasturtium Pickle.
So much resemble capers, both in flavour and the mode of pickling, as to be frequently used in the same manner; the seeds should be allowed to get ripe after the buds and flowers have gone off. Gather them upon a dry day, and keep them for a few days after they have been gathered; put them into a jar, and pour boiling vinegar well spiced upon them; when cold, cover the jar. They will not be fit for use for some months, but will be finely flavoured after keeping, and are sometimes preferred to capers, for which they are an excellent substitute, being useful also in serving up all dishes in which pickles are warmed with the gravy. Young red capsicums and elder-flowers before they open may be done in the same way.
Murray’s Modern Domestic Cookery, by A Lady, 1851

Quotation for the Day.

Nobody really likes capers no matter what you do with them. Some people pretend to like capers, but the truth is that any dish that tastes good with capers in it, tastes even better with capers not in it.
Nora Ephron.

1 comment:

Saffron Paisley said...

Thanks, Janet! Just discovered a patch of nasturtiums and was looking for a recipe for vinegar... So simple!