I love edible flowers. They bring such color and whimsy to the table. I love them sprinkled on a good salad, and this year I even used honeysuckle to make a cordial. I usually plant a few marigolds for tossing with salads, and stick a few nasturtium seeds in the edge of the garden.
This year I forgot to plant the nasturtiums, but as luck would have, the lovely blossoms are a new addition to the farmers market this year. A couple of vendors are offering little bouquets of nasturtium flowers alongside the herbs and greens. And as I missed having them in my own garden, I wanted to preserve their beauty and flavor. These ideas are hardly recipes, just great ways to extend the life of nasturtium season.
This nasturtium butter is beautiful, the golden yellow of butter flecked with bright orange, yellow, red and green. Use it to make the most elegant tea sandwiches, on its own spread on wheat bread, or with thin slices of cucumber. A slice of this butter is spectacular placed on a piece of just cooked white fish, the butter melting into a sauce with the flower specks decorating the fish. And your friends will really ohh and ahh at your creativity when you serve pats of this on a butter plate beside the bread at dinner. Use the finest butter you can afford to maximize the lusciousness of this treat.
The nasturtium vinegar takes on a beautiful hue, and has a slight peppery bite. Use it in any simple salad dressing or as you would herb vinegar.
To clean nasturtiums, gently dip and swirl them in a little dish of water and shake. Leave on a tea towel to dry. Use the smallest, tenderest leaves.
1 ounce nasturtium flowers and a few leaves (about 8 – 10 flowers, 5 -6 small leaves), no stems
4.4 ounces good butter, softened
Generous pinch Maldon salt
Finely chop the flowers, including the stamens, using a sharp knife. Scrape the chopped blossoms into a small bowl and add the butter. Using the back of a fork, mash the butter and flowers together, making sure the flowers are well distributed throughout the butter. Add a pinch of salt and blend it in.
Lay a long piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Scrape the butter into a log onto one end of the wrap. Roll the wrap over the butter and continue rolling, using the plastic to help shape the butter into a uniform log. Twist the ends together like a piece of candy, squeezing the log into an even shape. Label the log and place in the freezer until firm.
Frozen butter will last up to three months in the freezer.
I use an empty, cleaned bottle that once held bought vinegar, but a mason jar will do just as well.
1 ounce nasturtium flowers
White wine or champagne vinegar to cover, about 1 cup
Clean a bottle or 1 pint mason jar in the dishwasher and thoroughly dry. Gently place the blossoms into the bottle or jar and pour the vinegar over. Seal the bottle, then leave to infuse for at least a week.
The vinegar will keep for months.