These teeny tiny ‘berries’ pack an incredible piquant punch. Capers are a cultivated and coveted ingredient. In this article we’ll look at all the many ways capers contribute to the culinary arts. 

What are Capers? 

Capers are the immature, unopened flower buds of the caper bush, a spiky shrub with viney brambles. The caper bush can be found, wild and farmed, throughout the Mediterranean, primarily in Italy, Spain, and Morocco. The buds are collected, often hand-picked, dried then cured either in a salt or vinegar mixture. 

Capers have been a primary ingredient used in the Mediterranean for centuries, first noted in recipes dating back to 2000 BCE, and commonly used in garnishes, condiments, sauces, and dressings. 

Tiny Size, Mighty Flavor 

Capers provide a salty and sour flavor to dishes. The smaller the caper, the more delicate the flavor. The larger the caper, the more acidic. Based on this size-to-flavor characteristic, the smaller buds are typically the most desirable and more expensive. Here is a list of caper types and their sizes in diameter:

Non pareils: (the smallest) 7mm

Surfine: 7mm-8mm

Capucines: 8mm-9mm  

Capotes 9mm-11mm 

Fines 11mm-13mm 

Grusas 14+ mm 

Our Favorite Recipes 

We have an exciting collection of recipes showcasing the caper. From classic dishes to creative culinary creations, here are some of our favorites to help you discover the awesome flavor that capers provide. 

Chicken Piccata is probably the most popular caper-featured recipe. Chicken cutlets are infused with a lemon-caper butter sauce, served over springy noodles. 

Caponata is a condiment, side dish, or topping popular throughout Italy, particularly Sicily. A simmered combination of eggplant, peppers, celery, vinegar, and capers. 

This recipe for Salmon with Salsa Verde is a perfect example of the delicious (and classic) combination of seafood and capers. The salsa verde adds a pop of color and a burst of flavor to sous vide salmon filets. Our green sauce consists of briney capers, verdant parsley, tangy lemon, and fiery red pepper flakes for a little bit of everything.

Another seafood featured recipe, enhanced by the use of capers, is our Shrimp Veracruz. A Mexican-Mediterranean fusion of flavor, this recipe is tangy, briney, and bright thanks to tomatoes, capers, olives, and pickled peppers. 

Feature Image: Francisco de la Carrera from Pixabay

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