Christchurch Mail : April 10th 2014
CHRISTCHURCH MAIL, APRIL 10, 2014 29 Beauty and flavour in one lush plant By VIRGIL EVETTS Plant nasturtiums I know, right? Me promoting flowers, rather than food crops! Well, sort of. As you probably know, nastur- tiums are edible. The young leaves are delicious – the big ones, not so much – in salads, lightly steamed, or dropped into soups and curries. They’re more than a little reminiscent of watercress, which funnily enough is the true botanical owner of the name ‘‘nasturtium’’. And the freshly opened flowers are indisputably good in salads, either whole or torn. Just be sure to check them for concealed insects first. Nasturtiums have a long his- tory as the source of ‘‘poor man’s’’ or mock capers. Although unrelated, they contain high levels of glucocapparin, the chemical compound responsible for flavour in capers. However, where most cooks go wrong is preserving the juvenile seed as capers. Don’t get me wrong – generations of poor caper-lovers can’t be totally off track and the preserved seeds do indeed taste very much like the real thing. It’s the texture that lets them down. ■ This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine Get Growing from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For a free sample visit: getgrowing.co.nz or to subscribe visit: mags4gifts.co.nz or call 0800 MAGS4GIFTS. Real capers are tender, but slightly crisp; whereas ‘‘capered’’ nasturtium seeds have the rubbery crunch of boiled peanuts. Nasturtium flower buds, on the other hand, taste and feel authentic. It’s enough to make me wonder why I bother with growing actual caper plants at all. Nasturtiums can be grown year round, but tend to sulk in the heat of summer. Autumn is when selfsown nasturtiums seeds germinate in my neighbourhood, so by my reckoning, that’s when they should be started. Being one of the world’s most popular annual flowering plants for temperate climates, there are many colours and forms. My personal favourite variety is the compact classic, ‘‘Black Velvet’’. With dark, almost steelblue leaves, a restrained, bushy form, and startling red flowers, it’s a stunner! Press the seeds into rich, tilled soil, about as deep as the first knuckle of your index finger – they need dark to germinate. Water gently to avoid excavating the seeds. Seedlings usually appear in a week or so and are immediately recognisable as nasturtiums. As spring unfolds, nasturtiums usually start to decline and there’s no point fighting this. Pull them out and fill the gaps until autumn. Chances are, your soil will be full of dropped seeds and the plants will ride again anyway. CROSSWORD YOUR STARS TOP 10 THE TOP 10 1. What happened to Christchurch Cathedral in 1881, 1888, 1901 and 1922? 2. Which 1973 song was the first from a James Bond film to be nominated for an Oscar? 3. Who spent 30 years breeding Herdwick sheep and was also known for her children’s books? 4. Which metal makes stainless steel stainless: chromium, silver or tin? 5. Who became the 50th Prime Minister of New Zealand, in 1989? 6. What word is used in radio calls for the letter Y? 7. Which one word can mean a parasitic worm, a triangular plate on an anchor, a lobe of a whale’s tale and a lucky accident? 8. How many times a day do Muslims pray: three, four or five? 9. Who played Lord Melchett in TV’s Blackadder? 10. What flying thing is the kakahukura: New Zealand’s native bat, the bellbird or the red admiral butterfly? SUDOKU EDIBLECHARM:Both the small leaves and the flowers are good to eat from the nasturtium plant. NZ CROSSWORD 1. It was damaged by earthquakes, 2. “Live and Let Die”, 3. Beatrix Potter, 4. Chromium, 5. Geoffrey Palmer, 6. Yankee, 7. Fluke, 8. Five, 9. Stephen Fry, 10. Red Admiral butterfly.
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