Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nasty Testes

The nasturtiums under the crepe myrtle are still pumping out sweet orange blossoms, though the heat is maing the plants more and more raggedy. Now, each time I have a few minutes to scramble through the radish-scented vines, I collect a handful of nasturtium seeds.

In years past, I've tried a variety of ways to pickle the seeds because I've read that once pickled, they're a good stand-in for capers, and I've killed more caper plants than I have fingers. (My blog friend Michelle, however, is the Caper Queen.) But each strategy I tried gave me a product I wasn't very happy with.

What I've learned what trying various pickled nasturtium seeds recipes:

  • I don't have cups of seeds to work with at a time; instead, I have handfuls.
  • I like onion and vinegar flavoring the seeds, not any other spices. 
  • The seeds need a few changes of brine to calm the horseradishy bite.

This year, I've figured out how to make pickled nasturtium seeds the way I like them. Here's how I do it.

I take handful of rinsed, still greenish nasturium seeds and put them in a jar. I heat a cup of water, add a tablespoon of sea salt, then pour the brine over the seeds and let the jar sit out on the counter overnight. It stinks. The next day, I drain the seeds, and add another cup of the salt water brine. On the third day, I repeat the process the third and final time.

On the fourth day, I drain the capers and place them in clean jar with a fat slice of onion. I pour good quality white wine vinegar over until they're covered, then lid the jar and keep it in the refrigerator. By that time, I'm ready to collect another handful of seeds, which I put through the brining process, then add to the jar of pickled seeds, topping off with more vinegar as needed. As they're in pure vinegar, they'll keep indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Already this year, I've used this a few ways. The other day, I minced a few tablespoons of them, minced some sweet onion, and added both to a can of smoked tuna with a dollop each of mayo and yogurt. Man, that was the tastiest tuna salad sandwich I'd had for a while.

But, I believe that a single pickled nasturtium seed has a divine function in life: to sit in a juicy, raw oyster like a green, anatomically-suggestive pearl.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

The funny thing is, (or is it ironic), I have a heck of a time growing nasturtiums. I think that pickled masturtium seeds would be delicious in their own right, caper substitute or no. Oysters with pickled nasturtium and a dash of the vinegar from the jar sounds heavenly.