Capers have been used to pickle foods and as flavor additives since ages. Though they are one of the best ingredients for seasoning, many people avid it due to its piquant taste. Hence they are constantly looking for something to substitute it with. Though nothing can truly render the exact same flavor to the food that capers do, there are some items that come really close. This article will tell you about capers, and also some substitutes for it.
WHAT ARE CAPERS
Capparis Spinosa is a thorny perennial plant which bears small fruit called capers. These fruit are hand plucked when they are unripe and are used in pickles by saturating in salt brine or vinegar. The plant is a member of the cabbage family. They are found in varying sizes. Some are as small as peas while others are as big as a grape. They are generally used as a condiment to preserve foods by way of pickling. They have a strong and acrid taste and can be used to make spicy sauces or to garnish salads, meat and even main course food items. This distinct flavor of capers is what makes it very hard to substitute. However, there are some ingredients that can you use in your attempt to acquire the same flavor.
Nasturtium is a flower that can be eaten whole along with its leaves. It has a peppery taste that can greatly enhance the flavor of a salad or pasta. Its seeds can be used as a substitute for capers when pickled. Nasturtium buds can also be used. It's very easy to grow them as well. Get the seeds from your local florist and plant them in your garden. All they need is soil and water to flourish. It is advisable to avoid using pesticides on the nasturtium plants as the seeds, leaves and flowers of this plant are edible. Once their pods begin to appear (when they are still green), pluck them and pickle them (for about a week) using about 500 ml of vinegar, an onion slice, a spoon of dill seeds, a clove of garlic and a couple of peppercorns. Your capers substitute is ready to use.
Green olives can be used as a substitute for capers in recipes. But since they are much bigger than capers, it is better to take only half the number of olives while using it as a substitute. So for every four capers that you would add, use just two green olives. Cut the olives into small pieces and then add them instead of capers in cooking. This will serve a dual purpose, the olives won't be recognized as olives and your food will taste the same as it would with capers! Both olives and capers have an almost equally pungent taste, so green olives are great substitutes when you don't have capers at hand.
Thyme is one of the many exotic culinary herbs that can be used to season and add flavor to a food item. It can also be used as an effective substitute for capers. Thyme is a herb which has a very strong flavor quite similar to that of capers. And like most herbs, it releases this flavor gradually into the food. Hence, if you wish to get the same (or an almost similar) flavor, it would be advisable to add the thyme in the early stages of cooking. This will ensure that the fragrance and the flavor is fully absorbed and blended with the other ingredients by the time the dish is ready. Using the leaves together with the stems or just the leaves alone is a matter of personal choice. You can also use dried and/or ground thyme instead of fresh thyme. It'll taste the same.
GREEN PEPPERCORNS IN BOWL
Green peppercorns are also an amazing substitute for capers in cooking. They even look like capers. You can get a jar at your grocery store OR you can pickle your garden peppercorns and use them as the perfect substitute for capers. Follow these instructions to brine the green peppercorns from your own garden.
- Boil 250 ml of water in a container.
- Add 3/4th spoon of turmeric powder and 2 tablespoons (full) salt to it.
- Allow the mixture to cool and then squeeze two lemons into the mixture.
- Put this solution into a glass jar and add the green peppercorns to it. Give it a week to mature. Your homemade capers substitute is ready!
It is really difficult to get an ingredient to imitate the flavor of another. And this is the biggest risk you take, especially in case of capers. However, sometimes it is totally unavoidable. The next time you're whipping up a savory meal for your family, use any of the above mentioned ingredients instead of capers. You might not get the same flavor as the capers, but you'll come really close.