Everything You Need To Know About Capers

21 June 2021

Capers and caperberries are unique to the realm of food; the tiny green flower buds are delicious! Learn all about the capers food lovers adore!

What Are Capers?Photo By Canva

Capers are amongst the most exciting tiny foods in the world, the green flower buds are addictively tasty, and they’re exceptionally versatile too! Here are all your questions about capers and caperberries answered. Yes, capers are more exciting than you think!

Learn all there is about the capers food lovers around the world can’t have enough of!

What Are Capers?

Capers are one of the oddest things on our diet; they’re green flower buds from the caper bush. Not the fruit or the seeds, but the buds. It is often pickled, they’re usually placed in the same category as olives, but they couldn’t be more different.

Capers are cultivated all around the Mediterranean Basin, and they’re common ingredients in Spanish, Moroccan, French, Greek and Italian cuisines. Used as a condiment but also as just another ingredient, capers add texture, saltiness and a pleasant peppery and herbal flavor to many preparations.

The caper bush grows in arid and semi-arid areas, and although the plant’s buds are incredibly popular, people also consume its fruit — the caperberry.

What Are Capers Used For?

Capers give flavor and texture to various dishes, from Spanish-style cod to the Italian American classic chicken piccata. Capers also find their way into sauces and dressings, soups and stews. As a condiment to add a distinctive touch to any dish or as the chief ingredient, capers play distinct roles in various recipes worldwide.

Capers are often preserved in brine, meaning they’re pickled. And like with olives, the salty brine might overwhelm caper’s actual herbal and peppery flavor. At the end of the day, the taste of capers is now linked with the brine’s flavor — you might not even recognize them straight from the bush!

What Do Capers Taste Like?

Capers remind us very much of olives, but that’s the brine in which both foods are cured. The flower buds actually have an herbal, peppery and sometimes citrus and earth-scented personality.

Caper’s flavor truly shines well when used to condiment other food, from lox to tuna. And it’s because the flowering bud is more of a condiment than a vegetable. The texture and the looks matter too. Cappers add a firm, snappy bite to any recipe, and their olive-green color elevates any dish with contrast.

Although some people associate capers with a vinegary or bitter taste, capers are not acidic at all, and they’re rarely overwhelmingly bitter.

What is the Substitute for Capers?

Chopped or sliced olives are a fantastic substitute for capers on any recipe; if you use green olives, even better. Other pickled veggies will add a similar salty taste to your food, but caper’s flavor and texture are hard to substitute.

If you don’t have olives around, you can leave capers out of any recipe, often without a dramatic difference. Capers are an accent, a condiment, and like any condiment, they play a supporting role and are rarely the leading flavor carriers.

If you really need a caper substitute, try using nasturtium buds, green peppercorns, dill pickles or even anchovies.

What is the Difference Between a Caper and a Caperberry?

A Bowl of CaperberryPhoto By Canva

Capers are the edible buds of the caper bush. Caper fruit is obtained by leaving these buds unharvested. Caper berries are the fruits of the caper bush and have a milder flavor. It is naturally larger than capers and can grow as large as some types of olives.

Like all fruits, caperberries have tiny seeds and often come with their stem still attached, which you must remove. Just like regular capers, the most common way of finding caperberries is cured in salty brine or vinegar, and they play a similar role in the kitchen.

Think of caperberries as large, gentler capers or slightly odd olives, and you’ll be all right. You can substitute them for capers and olives in almost any recipe.

Where are Capers in the Grocery Store?

Capers are found with other pickled veggies, probably right beside olive jars. Capers are a popular preserve, and you probably will never see them fresh in the fruit and veggie section of the supermarket.

Capers are also typical in the gourmet section if your supermarket has one, and they’re easily found in gourmet stores, mainly if specialized in European (better said, Mediterranean) cuisines.

If all else fails, you can order capers online, too, and they’re always affordable. The best part? A jar of capers will last ages in your pantry or fridge. You often only need a spoonful or two for a big meal.

How to Store Capers?

Capers often come preserved in brine, so they’re practically eternal. Actually, if you’ve never opened your caper jar, you can safely store it in the pantry carefree.

Once opened, you want to store your caper jar in the fridge just to be safe. Pickles and brined foods have long shelf lives and are resistant to bacterial contamination. Still, if you see some cloudiness in the brine, toss it and get new capers.

Although the brine protects capers from bacteria and mold, always keep capers away from direct sunlight or heat sources. And if you have any doubts, read the expiration date printed on the label or the jar’s lid.

Nutrition and Benefits of Capers

As for nutrition, capers have adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. They also have tremendous amounts of vitamin K. Capers are rich in calcium, iron and selenium, but you would need to eat lots of them to notice changes in your system.

The biggest problem with capers is the brine, as that’s too much salt for your wellbeing. The good news is that cappers are not an overeaten food. — you’ll eat less than a dozen capers every time the ingredient is featured in a dish.

Not everything is lost, though. Capers have high amounts of healthy antioxidants.

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