Nasturtiums, also called “nose-twisters” or “nose-tweakers,” derive their name from the Greek word meaning “to twist” because of the peppery taste in the flowers, leaves, and seeds! Infuse these vibrant blooms in vinegar to create a tart tonic to complement your pantry staples.
Nasturtium is a South American plant that the ancient Incas of Peru revered for millennia as a salad vegetable and medicinal herb. They brewed tea from wild crafted nasturtiums to cure respiratory illnesses and mixed it into a poultice for cuts and burns.
The inventor of the plant classification system, Carolus Linnaeus, gave the name Tropaeolum to the genus. The phrase has military connotations, referring to war trophies captured in battle. Linnaeus observed that the circular leaves were reminiscent of shields, while the cupped blooms had a resemblance to polished helmets.
Nasturtiums are not just visually stunning; they also provide numerous health benefits. The colourful flowers and other components of the plant are rich in trace elements and bioactive compounds that our bodies can readily absorb. They are a wonderful source of micro-elements like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium and macro elements like zinc, copper, and iron.
But that’s not all—extracts from different parts of the plant, such as flowers, leaves, and essential oils, have a wide range of health benefits. For example, studies have found antimicrobial, antifungal, hypotensive, expectorant, and anticancer effects. Plus, extracts from garden nasturtium have high levels of antioxidants like anthocyanins, polyphenols, and vitamin C.
With such a unique combination of phytochemicals and elements, garden nasturtiums have the potential to help treat many health conditions, particularly those related to the respiratory and digestive systems.
Nasturtium vinegar as a tonic
By immersing the flowers in vinegar, you can extract the bold pigments that contribute to their vivid colours. Pigments such as anthocyanins and polyphenols act as antioxidants, which are molecules that can protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals can be naturally produced by the body during metabolic processes, as well as in response to external factors like pollution, radiation, and cigarette smoke. As a result, adopting a diet that is rich in these antioxidants can contribute to improved health and a decreased risk of chronic disease.
- 500mL or half quart of unpasteurised apple cider vinegar
- Nasturtium flowers - chemical free, enough to loosely pack a 500mL or half quart jar
- Clean 500mL or half quart jar with lid
- Funnel strainer
- 500mL or half quart bottle
- Loosely pack jar with nasturtium flowers.
- Pour apple cider vinegar over the flowers.
- Seal the jar.
- Leave to infuse out of direct sunlight for one to two weeks.
- Start taste testing every day or two after one week with a clean stainless steel teaspoon.
- When the vinegar has the right pepperiness for you, simply strain the vinegar into the clean bottle.
- Keep sealed out of direct sunlight for up to a year.
How can I use nasturtium vinegar?
This vibrant vinegar makes a great warming digestive tonic. You can also incorporate it into your cooking to add a warm, peppery tang!
Here are a few of my tried-and-true ways of using it:
- a slurp in a small glass of room-temperature water as a digestive before meals
- add to honey and warm water for a soothing tea
- vinegar component of salad dressings, mayonnaise and aioli
- the vinegar ingredient in shrubs when you want a peppery edge
- making vegetable pickles – lovely with cucumber!
- deglazing pans when cooking meats
- works well in most savoury sauces and gravies
How do you like nasturtium vinegar? Tell me about it in the comments below :)