[Sca-cooks] Capers

Susan Fox selene at earthlink.net
Thu Aug 23 13:45:15 PDT 2007

I had such a funny conversation with my mother just the other day.  For 
years, she thought that capers were a kind of fish, since she usually 
saw them with anchovies or lox.  They even had little tails!

Good thing she has a foodie kid.  <chuckle>

There's some talk of a caper shortage?  Should we plant caperberry 
bushes and pickle our own?


Saint Phlip wrote:
> This came across a mundane List I'm on, and I thought it might be of
> interest to newer cooks.
> Capers are the pickled flower buds of a thorny, trailing shrub that
> grows like a weed all over the Mediterranean. It's a stubborn, ornery
> plant, difficult to cultivate, with a preference for dry, stony
> places. You'll find it growing from rocky cracks and crevices and
> climbing stone walls.
> When raw, capers are insipid things. Fortunately, it was discovered
> thousands of years ago that pickling transforms capers, lending them a
> salty-sour pungency and unique aroma that have won the caper an
> important place at the Mediterranean table.
> The quality of capers is inversely related to their size; the smaller,
> the better. The best, sold as nonpareilles or surfines, have an extra
> intensity and cost to match.
> During harvest, special care must be taken to pick the buds early in
> the day before they have a chance to bloom. (Blooming gives you a
> beautiful white and violet-colored flower but no caper.) If you let
> the flower fruit, you end up with a berry the size of a small olive.
> These berries, called caperberries, also need to be cured in brine and
> are best treated like cornichons or any other pickle. You'll often
> find them on antipasti plates.
> Bottled capers will keep indefinitely as long as they are submerged in
> their own brine. So take care to leave the brine behind when spooning
> capers from their jar. If they're not submerged, use them faster, and
> don't top off the jar with vinegar - it'll make them spoil faster.
> Source: The Food Network

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