COPYCAT CAPERS: PICKLED NASTURTIUM PODS
They’re not just a pretty flower. The seed pods of the nasturtium are a dead ringer for capers when pickled. Most of the plant is edible in some way. Plus the flowers themselves are easy to grow and beautiful to look at. A win-win!
2/3 cup nasturtium seed pods
1/4 cup salt
2 cups water
2/3 cup distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 bay leaf
Harvest young, light green, half-ripened seed pods while they’re still on the vines.
Young pods are crisp and juicy, but tend to lose their zip and flavor as they mature (eventually, they dry out into wrinkled brown seeds and drop to the ground). Separate the pods into individual seeds, and give them a quick rinse to remove any dirt.
The raw seeds are full of potent mustard oils that make them bitterly strong in flavor; a little too strong for my liking, so I start by mellowing them out in a simple salty brine. In a quart jar, dissolve the salt in water. Add the nasturtium seeds, then place a zip-top bag over the rim and down into the jar to keep the seeds submerged. Let the brine sit for a couple of days at room temperature. The seeds will turn a dull green during this stage.
Strain the seeds and rinse again to remove excess salt.
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar and sugar to a low boil for 1 minute and stir to dissolve.
Divide your seeds into half-pint jars, then pour the hot vinegar over the seeds, covering them completely. Add a bay leaf to each jar.
Let the jars cool to room temperature before sealing with lids. At this point, you can either keep the jars at room temp (no need to fire up the boiling water bath), or store them in the fridge.
The pickled pods will keep indefinitely in the vinegar; I still have a jar left from a big batch I made almost two years ago, sitting in my pantry unspoiled. (Just make sure you use a clean utensil each time you scoop out seeds!)