A real caper is the flower bud of a caper plant, Capparis spinosa, and its large seedpod is called a caper berry. The seedpods of nasturtiums look just like the caper plant's buds, and when pickled they taste remarkably similar. Nasturtiums usually don't start forming seedpods until late in the summer and you have to search for them. You'll find them attached to the stems underneath the foliage, where they develop in clusters of three. Pick only young pods that are still green and soft. When they mature, they turn yellowish and the seed inside the pod is very hard and unpalatable.
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup green nasturtium seedpods
3/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 fresh bay laurel leaves, or 1 dried
2 3-inch sprigs fresh thyme
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.
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