1. Bring the salt and water to a boil in a small saucepan.
2. Put the nasturtium seedpods in a half-pint glass jar and pour the boiling brine over them.
3. Cover and let them soak at room temperature for 3 days.
4. Drain the nasturtium seedpods in a fine sieve and return them to the jar.
5. Bring the vinegar, sugar, bay leaves, and thyme to a boil in a small (1-quart) saucepan.
6. Pour the boiling vinegar mixture over the seedpods and let cool.
7. Cover the jar and refrigerate for 3 days before using. They'll keep for 6 months in the refrigerator if covered in the vinegar.
Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner 2000). Copyright 2000 by Jerry Traunfeld.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.