Nasturtium – A real power flower!
Did you know? Edible flowers contain many vitamins and minerals. They’re rich in nectar and pollen, too.
When I was a little girl, I remember quite clearly a time when my Mom grabbed a daffodil away from my hand (that I’d just picked from her garden), and was about to shove in my mouth to eat. I have two points to make about this little flashback.
1) NEVER eat anything from the garden unless you know it’s okay! (Daffodils are NOT okay, and your Mom will agree).
2) For some reason, I’ve always looked at flowers in a way that some people look at a big juicy steak!
Years later, now with a garden of my own, (and a bit of knowledge thankfully), I grow flowers that not only attract pollinators, but some I can eat, and so can you!
Rose hips & Lavender
For the rose connoisseur, rose hips are particularly high in vitamin C and may contain up to 50 times more of this vitamin than you’d find in an orange. In this post however, I’d like to talk about Nasturtiums.
I’ve grown these pretty, eye-catching flowers for many years so they’ll trail along the front of my garden border. But the best part is that this plant is edible.
It’s fairly well known that the flower can be used in salads and stir fry’s. With a slight peppery flavour, it reminds me of watercress. More than just tasty, nasturtium flowers are high in vitamin C., (about the same amount you’d find in parsley), and in addition, they contain the highest amount of lutein found in any edible plant.
Lutein is a natural carotenoid found in orange-yellow fruits/flowers, leafy vegetables like kale, (carrots of course), and egg yolk. (A flamingo’s diet is rich in carotenoids which gives them the pink plumage that makes them so beautiful!)
In our eyes, carotenoids are present in macular pigments, where their importance in aiding against ocular disease is currently under clinical research. So eat your plants. 🙂
Saving Nasturtium seeds
I save nasturtium seeds to plant more next year, but I also harvest some unripe pods to create condiments, especially spiced herbal vinegars.
For this recipe, simply steep them in a jar of vinegar for a week or two, along with any other herbs you like for additional flavour, (shake daily), then strain and bottle. It’s really that easy!
The leaves are also rich in vitamin C, and in addition, they contain a sulphur compound that apparently offers an excellent anti-fungal, antiseptic, and antibiotic source when eaten.
Nasturtiums, Hollyhocks, Scarlet Runner beans
Edible flowers should be picked in late morning after the dew has gone, but before the sun is high in the sky. Pick the fully open flowers.
Never eat any flower that’s been in contact with chemicals or other poisons such as pesticides or herbicides. Organic is always the way to go! If you grow it yourself, you know it’s safe for your family. Otherwise, the local farmers’ market is another great source to find healthy food.
Much like growing grapes for making wine, flowers of the same variety, but grown in different locations, will have a slightly different taste.
This ‘terroir‘ as it’s called, (and I just love this word!) 🙂 is pronounced tĕr-wär′. It offers the complete set of local conditions where a particular fruit, vegetable, or herb, (cheese & other hand crafted food), is produced, including the soil-type, weather conditions, topography, obtains its individual character.
Flowers and foliage may taste a little different at the end of the growing season too, and can vary from year to year. Think of dandelion leaves which for me, always taste best in spring.
And, the best part you ask? Flowers are mostly free of calories!
Do NOT eat ANYTHING from the garden if you aren’t absolutely sure you know what it is first! – Thank you!
More edible flowers
Have fun experimenting, and happy gardening! ~ Karen