Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide

How to make capers from nasturtium seeds

A single nasturtium seed on a plant

Pickled nasturtium (Tropaeolum) seeds can make an excellent replacement for capers (which come from a different plant). This recipe is simple, quick and effective as they taste just as good as capers! Here I pick them from my wild town garden where they arrived as weeds and I've been loving their colour and flavour ever since.

Nasturiums are such a giving plant; they grow easily in the sun, partial shade or complete shade (though they may get stressed in a very hot summer in full sun). They are also easy to cultivate and grow best in dry soil. They are trailing, climbing plants, which with the right opportunity will climb upwards or fill large patches of ground.

Bowl of nasturtium seeds and flowers

Are nasturtiums really a wild food?

Native to South America, but were brought to Europe in the 1500s and have since naturalised in many areas. I know them both as a cultivated, garden plant and a profuse, common weed.

There are over 80 species of nasturtiums, some annual, some perennial. Luckily, nasturtiums produce a lot of seeds which mean they keep coming back (even if they are annuals) AND there can still be enough seeds to produce these capers.

Which part of nasturtiums are edible?

All parts of nasturtiums (pronounced na-stir-tchums) are edible. Their name literally means nose twister or nose tweaker, because of their peppery kick. The flowers are sweet and the leaves, flowers and seeds all have that spicy flavour. I love adding the flowers into salads, the leaves into pesto and pickling the seeds to make these fake capers - though they taste just as good!

I love their beautiful, colour flowers to look at, smell and eat! They can start to flower in spring and early summer.

Are nasturtiums good for you to eat?

Nasturtiums contain a good amount of vitamin C and high amounts of lutein derived from carotenoids, which may be beneficial for eye health (1). Eating a varied diet full of greens, orange, yellow and a range of colours is generally considered good for your health too (2).

Nasturtium Capers (Pickled seeds) Recipe

Makes 1 jar


  • 300 g/1 cup nasturtium seeds
  • 80 ml/1/3 cup vinegar*
  • 80 ml/1/3 cup water
  • Large pinch of sea salt
  • Large pinch sugar
  • 2 tsp chopped herbs (of your choice) - optional

Wash the seeds and place in a pickling jar. In a small saucepan heat up the vinegar, water, salt and sugar to boiling. Pour over the seeds. Add the herbs if using and stir in to submerge. Screw on the lid and leave for 2 weeks before using.

How to pickled nasturtium seeds compare to capers?

Capers are from the caper bush (Capparis spinosa or Capparis inermis) from the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. they also have both wild and cultivated cousins. Of course pickled nasturtium seeds are different, but they're a pretty good replacement! Call these fake capers if you wish, or just pickled nasturtium seeds.

Jar of pickled nasturtium seeds
(Freshly pickled, these need to be left for at least 2 weeks to mature)


13 comments on “How to make capers from nasturtium seeds”

    1. Hi Doris, pickles can keep a long time. I normally keep mine for up to a year. They will soften in the first couple of weeks, but after that they stay consistent in firm/softness. I hope that helps.

  1. Hi there, love your recipes!
    I've read a few places online that Nasturtium seeds are toxic... which I found strange as I always knew the whole plant to be edible and medicinal.

    Have you come across any side affects from the seeds at all? Gastrointestinally?

    Many thanks,

    - Jackson

    1. Hi Jackson, I personally haven't had any ill effects from this plant, however it contains a lot of heat so huge amounts could be an irritant. Plants for a Future website state (one of the sources I rate); - Avoid for infants or small children and patients with gastrointestinal ulcers or kidney disease. Irritation of the mucous membrane of the gastrointestinal tract. I hope that helps.

    1. Hi Barney, I use a light vinegar like white wine vinegar. You could you a stronger vinegar like apple cider vinegar if you like.

  2. I harvested some seed pics, but only a couple of tablespoons. Can I store them until I have enough to pickle?

    1. Hi Karen, pickling is a way of preserving the seeds, so it depends how long before the gather the others! I would probably pickle what I had then add to it. All the best, R

  3. Hello Rachel, I stumbled across your website while searching for how to pickle garlic chives seeds. A Yorkshire chef on the BBC Hairy Bikers Go North series the other week was using them to garnish a dish. Alas, I can't find any recipes for this! I was wondering if you have ever tried pickling them or have any thoughts? Might the nasturtium flower recipe work? I preserve a lot of home-grown veg and herbs but am new to pickling and have a huge garlic chive plant going over from flower to seed right now. Would love to utilise them! Many thanks for any advice.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, yes I'd pickle them the same as nasturtium seeds. I'd pickle fresh not dried. I hope it goes well!

  4. Hi, we don't own a fridge or freezer as we realised we didn't really need one over 2 years ago. Would they be ok without the fridge if in a cool cupboard?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up to the newsletter

Receive regular updates on news, recipes and events.

Privacy policy

Buy Rachel's books

Community Giving Project

We're raising funds to help purchase land for grassroots growing projects for BPOC communities in the UK.

Amount raised so far £4,816.65

Buy Rachel's books

Sign up to the newsletter

Receive regular updates on news, recipes and events.

Privacy policy