nasturtiums – a tea, a pesto and a cure

31st August 2014

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How I love this plant. They are such a visual treat.  Especially when my neglected garden is looking somewhat sad in abundance, there are always nasturtiums gracefully filling in the bare spaces to a sparse garden.  They are their own abundant gift!  Neglect is their most valued possession. They go about their own business, trailing through our poor soil and semi-shaded positions, cascading edible bright yellow, orange, and rust-red flowers as they go.  They even self-seed and surprise us in all sorts of places you would least expect.  I add their peppery leaves and colourful flowers to salads, and add the leaves to green smoothies when greens are very few and far between.  For the tastiest nasturtium leaves, keep them well watered, which helps to moderate the spiciness of the leaves and flowers.  They make wonderful garlands and colourful decorations on and around birthday cakes.

The flowers were a favourite of the Victorians, and in the language of flowers, they stand for patriotism and fatherly love.

Nasturtiums secrete a mustard oil which insects find attractive and they will seek them out in preference to any cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and turnips growing nearby.  It is wonderful to have them wander between crops to act as a decoy for insects and as a flavour- improving agent, however, slugs, as I have found, enjoy hiding beneath the shade of their broad leaves.  If you graze or scratch yourself while working in the garden, smearing a bruised leaf over the area will aid in a swift healing.

Nasturtiums have a high concentration of vitamin C, iron and other minerals, and are also a natural antibiotic.  The gentle antibiotic reaction makes it ideal for treating minor colds and flu.  Eating a couple of leaves a day is said to help clear up acne.  Apparently, it is great for the hair, as nasturtium tea applied to the head scalp, increases circulation and hair growth.  It is also a great toner for oily skin.

Chewing the leaves is a good way to disinfect one’s mouth.  They’re a means for boosting appetite and stimulating digestion.P1080674 P10806394V7A5057_1980x1297

nasturtium tea

Place one cup of flowers, leaves and buds in a litre of boiling water in a jug.  Cover and allow to brew for 15 mins.  Strain and drink or use a hair rinse or toner this is also a great spray over plants to protect them against unwanted bugs.

nasturtium pesto

Makes 1 cup

ingredients :

2 cups packed nasturtium leaves

1 cup packed nasturtium flowers

¾ cup cold pressed organic olive oil

¾ cup lightly toasted walnuts

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

pinch of salt

preparation :

Pick a basket of fresh leaves and flowers without any blemishes.  If you are light on of the flowers, then leaves only are just fine.  Thoroughly wash and dry the leaves and flowers; tear larger leaves in half.

Place the leaves, flowers, lightly toasted and cooled walnuts, olive oil, salt and parmesan into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth.  Ladle into a jar and drizzle over olive oil to prevent browning.

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References :

http://www.alchemy-works.com/tropaeolum.html

http://www.thewoodenspoon.net.au/recipes/nasturtiums/

Goodness shared from Stacey

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