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Duncan’s pickled nasturtium seeds recipe (UK capers)


Photo: Pickled Nasturtium seeds

Photo: Pickled Nasturtium seeds

Have you ever tasted nasturtium seeds?  They’re nutty and peppery. I knew that they could be pickled to make an English version of the continental caper but I’ve never found a recipe when the seeds are green and perfect for pickling.

So I was delighted when Duncan, a reader and contributor to the Cottage Smallholder site, sent me his recipe. He had already road tested it.
“I sampled my first batch yesterday and wow they are good.

I have got the next batch in brine as I type. As it was a success and it is a good free alternative to that classic Italian ingredient I thought I would send it through to you…”

I shot down to the kitchen garden where trailing nasturtiums are romping across the borders. I found a handful of seeds and over the next week collected a small bowl of them. If you do this check the seeds carefully before brining and reject any brown ones.

My small bowl of nasturtium seeds didn’t fill a pound jar so I searched in the barn for dinky jars that seemed really too small to keep. Thank goodness I’m a hoarder

Duncan’s pickled nasturtium seeds recipe

  1. Pick the Nasturtium seeds when still green. Place in a wet brine made of 50g
    salt and 450ml /1 pint cold water. Leave for 24 hrs.
  2. Drain the seeds and rinse, then pack into warmed (sterilised) jars and cover with boiling *spiced vinegar and seal with plastic lined metal lids. Don’t use cellophane jam tops as the vinegar will evaporate.
  3. Leave for 3 weeks to mature.

*For the spiced vinegar – I adapted Oded Schwartz’s recipe for mild spiced European vinegar. used 500ml of white wine vinegar plus 1 tsp of black peppercorns, a small piece of blade mace, 1 tsp of celery seeds, 1 clove of garlic crushed, 1 small dried red chilli pepper (crumbled), I bay leaf, I tsp of juniper berries, 1 tsp of salt. Brought to the boil and simmered gently for 10 minutes and then strained through muslin.

  Leave a reply


  1. Sharon

    Dan – I have scores of nasturtiums growing wild in my backyard every year. They’re obviously happy there, especially in the wet winter, because the leaves get gigantic…about a foot across! I couldn’t resist trying to stuff them. I parboiled the leaves and treated them like cabbabe leaves, and stuffed them with a spicy ground beef, Italian hot sausage and rice mixture. I baked them in a light, fresh, lemon-y tomato sauce. Here’s the results: the ribs in the large leaves were very, very stringy and the leaves were tough. It made it hard to enjoy eating them. Next time, I will use smaller, younger leaves and try brining them first, like grape leaves. Flavor? Hmmm, hard to explain. They definitely have a nuance. Nothing great. But, I suspect they need a more bland or neutral filling that will not overpower them. Perhaps seasoned rice, or herbed goat or cream cheese, and marinated in an acid and broth-based sauce rather than cooking them in it. I hope this helps. Good luck!

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Belinda

    Yes you can eat them raw – when they are green. They are hot and spicy – great in a salad.

    I didn’t get round to using them in piccalily – but will do this year.

    The pickled nasturtium seeds are delicious – like hot capers.

    BTW all parts of the nasturtium plant are edible – leaves, flowers and seeds.

  3. Belinda

    Hi Fiona & Danny, its been a while. I hope Fi is feeling better & that Danny is well.

    I found my nastursium covered in seeds today so I have picked some for pickling using the method you have written about.

    Re-reading the comments I noticed you mentioning using them in piccalily & also using them raw in salads.

    How were they in the piccalily? AND I cannot believe they are good to eat straight from the plant in salads.. so tell me again. 😉 please.

  4. I made these for the first time last year having tried them at a friend’s. I’ve lost the recipe, but it was quite similar to this one, though used malt vinegar.

    We particularly like the pickled seeds added to a tomato sauce with black olives served over pasta. And served with a homegrown green salad with fresh nasturtium leaves and flowers for added pepperiness.

  5. Dan Siegel

    Great sounding recipe. Had a bumper crop this year. Anyone ideas on how to pickle the leaves or is that just crazy as my wife tells me?

  6. I will have to try that. I had not thought about using them straight from the plant, i have been thinking about using the pickled ones and adding them to the pan as i fry or grill lamb chops.

    Great to see all the ideas people are coming up with.

  7. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Duncan

    We ate the seeds raw in a green salad and fought over the last one.

    Am now harvesting the seeds daily.

  8. Hi Fn

    Like you i am still picking and pickling, as long as the plants keep producing i will keep pickling.

    They have so many uses, i even dice them very finely and add them to Thousand island dressing for added bite.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jan

    I’m picking more seeds in earnest. Will try a few in my piccalilli. Thanks.

    Hi Duncan

    Using them on pizzas is a brillikant idea.

  10. Jan, That sounds like a good idea, i had also thought about using them in chutneys – that is if i do not use them all up on pizzas!

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