Weekend Recipe: pickled nasturtium seeds (poor man’s capers)

Pickled nasturtium seeds recipe poor mans capers Decorator's Notebook blog 9

It’s a strange thing perhaps, but I take a completely different approach to styling in my home and garden. Indoors, I’m all about cool greys, natural materials and sophisticated bohemian touches. In my garden however, I love the beds to be filled with a riot of colour… big, blowsy blooms jostling for space in the billowing borders. Earlier this year I planted nasturtiums all around the edge of the patio and I love how their trailing stems and hot-house colours shout for attention. Now, as the flowers begin to fade and the seeds form, I decided to try making pickled nasturtium seeds, also known as ‘poor man’s capers’ to preserve my humble harvest.

Pickled nasturtium seeds recipe poor mans capers Decorator's Notebook blog 4Pickled nasturtium seeds recipe poor mans capers Decorator's Notebook blog 10

Nasturtium pods have a powerful peppery flavour and are a little too strong to eat raw. But, pickled in slightly sweetened vinegar, they are transformed into delicious green jewels that can be used just as you would conventional capers… add them to homemade pizzas and pasta dishes or use them to jazz up chicken or fish, grilled with a little butter and a grating of lemon zest.

Pickled nasturtium seeds recipe Poor Mans Capers Decorator's Notebook blog 14Pickled nasturtium seeds recipe Poor Mans Capers Decorator's Notebook blog 5

Pickled nasturium seeds (poor man’s capers) are very easy to make, just plan ahead as the seeds need to be soaked in brine before you begin. This recipe will make one standard sized jam jar… simply scale the recipe up or down depending on the number of seeds you are able to gather.

Weekend Recipe: pickled nasturtium seeds (poor man's capers)
Prep time
Cooking time
Total time
Turn humble nasturtium seeds into delicious poor man's capers. Gather them from the garden when they are large, firm and vibrant green in colour, breaking the clusters into individual pods as you go.
Serves: 1 jar
You will need
  • 200g fresh nasturtium pods
  • 1 heaped tbsp salt
  • 200ml white pickling vinegar
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  1. Rinse the nasturtium seeds in cold water to remove any dirt. Place the seeds in a bowl and cover with cold water. Add the salt and stir to dissolve. Allow to sit at room temperature for 48 hours. This process mellows the hot peppery flavour.
  2. Wash the seeds in cold water to remove the salt then pack into a sterilised glass jar.
  3. Put the vinegar and sugar into a saucepan, bring the liquid to a low boil stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Carefully pour the vinegar over the nasturtium seeds, ensuring all the seeds are completely covered. Add the bay leaf.
  5. Allow to cool before screwing on the lids. Pickled nasturtium seeds will keep for up to 6 months in the fridge.

[Photographs: all © Decorator’s Notebook]

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  1. Linda Hook says

    Hurrah! My nan used to pickle nasturtium seeds and whoever I have spoken to about this they look at me like I am mad!

  2. rhonda farmer says

    When it says they will last in the fridge for 6 months, does that mean after you open the jar or as a sealed jar ?????? Can you keep the sealed jar in the cupboard for 6 months ???

    • says

      They are best kept in the fridge rather than the cupboard. However, as long as there is enough vinegar left to cover the pods the opened jar should last several months in the fridge. However obviously please use your common sense and don’t eat them if you suspect they have gone bad!

    • Kim says

      Process them like any canned goods if you want to keep them in the cupboard. I processed my jars in the classic canning “hot water bath” for 10 minutes, listened for the seals on my jars to “pop” and then stored them in the cupboard. They’ve been in their for a year. I canned 8 pint jars last year and we have one left. I’m about to can this year’s batch tomorrow.

  3. Fred Kircheis says

    if I do not have enough seeds to warrant processing can I keep them in the fridge until I get more? Can I store them in the brine until I get more? or what ?

  4. John Michell, Cape Town says

    for how long should the seeds remain in the vinegar etc. Some say a year, but if you pickle the smaller seeds they are ready after a month or two. And don’t forget sandwiches filled with chopped leaves – beautiful and delicious!


  1. […] I collected some seeds from the Nasturtiums, some to save for next year and some as ‘Poor Man’s Capers’. What an amazing plant the Nasturtium is, edible flowers, leaves and seed pods and very decorative. I found an excellent article with the recipe on someone else’s blog so am happy to link to it.  Poor Man’s Capers […]

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