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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. I’ve been making nasturtium seed capers for a couple years now. Many sites say to use the very small ones, but I found that if you preserve them to use for months, the small ones get too mushy. So this year I’m picking the bigger ones, as I’m still on one of my batches from last year. I’ve been putting the leaves and flowers on our pizzas fresh from the pizza oven, like how you get fresh rocket on top of pizzas in Italy.

    • Fiona Nevile

      Yes, I agree with you Bridget, I use the bigger ones. Love the idea of putting the leaves and flowers on pizzas – must try that next year!

  2. Allan McRobert

    Nasturtiums are the most fantastic plants. They grow in the worst possible soil, the flowers are superb on salads, the bees love them and pickled seeds make capers look like a poor imitation. And the remaining plants are excellent for compost.

    • Sharon Russell

      I totally agree. Planted them in my garden decades ago and they’re still going strong, with little effort from me. They do need to be thinned out and cut back from time to time, but the seeds keep propagating themselves. Real survivors! The flowers are beautiful and tasty in salads, or floated in soups and broths. They never fail to elicit gasps of approval and delight. Just lovely. I did pickle the seeds, years ago, after reading this post. The results weren’t quite to my liking, so I’ll keep tweaking and developing it to accent my own culinary style. Working with the smaller seed pods seemed to reap the best results for me. I’ll keep at it. Frankly, I can’t think of a more rewarding project!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Too right! Unfortunately mine have never self seeded. I adore the pickled seeds on pizzas – add them when visitors come and they will be amazed!

    • Daphne Jackson

      And the leaves, or flowers, make fab pesto. There isn’t a crop to touch them!

  3. Hi Duncan, love the sound of your mock capers and have my novice batch in brine – excited to put on pizza and into potato salad.
    (fellow hoarder, UK) 🙂

    • Duncan

      Really pleased you are giving them a go. I think they are lush but do let me know how you get on.

  4. jane nelson

    Thanks for this one I am coming down with Nesterions this year so now I am busy pickling thank you

  5. robin

    glad you like it. let me know what you think, they are fantastic on home made pizza



  6. Dear Duncan,
    Delighted to find your recipe, brilliant, just in time.

  7. Have got to middleage without knowing about all things nasturcium, so happy to find that life still has surprises like this. Have been enjoying flowers in salads and am doing Duncan’s pickling recipe today

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi Ally

      Thanks for the nudge. Must do my pickled nasturcium pickles now!

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