Lucy Corry's pickled nasturtium buds

'NOSE-TWISTER': Lucy Corry loves nasturtiums.
'NOSE-TWISTER': Lucy Corry loves nasturtiums.

I love nasturtiums. I love their silky sunburst flowers and their perfectly symmetrical leaves. I love their crisp, peppery flavour and the distinctive smell that must explain why the Latin name for them is "nose twister". I love the way they coil around pots and creep over fences. When I lived in Newtown last year I encouraged a plant to sneak over from the neighbours' place and it rampaged all over our one square metre of vegetable patch before you could say Roundup.

Here in Hataitai they seem a little more circumspect, so I've had to resort to picking nasturtiums off the street. Experience has taught me it's best to do this in the company of a small child. People tend to look askance at a grown woman picking flowers from hillsides, especially if they mention they're planning to eat them.

If your garden isn't blessed with a rambling riot of nasturtiums, exercise caution in where you pick them from. Avoid busy roadsides where they have been breathing in exhaust fumes and you may want to think twice before picking them where they might have been "watered" by passing dogs.

The flowers are great in salads and the leaves add a peppery bite to cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches - just pick the smaller ones as the big ones are really fiery.


Try these pickled buds for a homegrown version of capers.

Nasturtium buds are the little brain- like growths at the base of the flowers. Pick them when the blossoms have wilted and died away.

At least 1/2 a cup of nasturtium buds, washed and dried

250ml rice wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1 clove garlic

10 peppercorns

Put the vinegar, salt, garlic and peppercorns into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for two minutes, then remove from the heat and let cool. Pour into a small sterilised jar, then add the washed and dried nasturtium buds. Put a lid on the jar and leave for a couple of weeks in a cool place. The buds will be ready to eat when they have sunk to the bottom of the jar. You can keep adding new buds to the liquid.

The Dominion Post