You must have come across capers in the gourmet food section of the supermarket. They are usually sold in glass jars, preserved in a brine and vinegar solution. Capers are used in Mediterranean as well as Moroccan cuisine and they work well in salads, sauces and pastas.
Capers are the green flower buds from the Capparis Spinosa bush. Capers are actually immature buds that are picked from bushes and are used as seasoning in many dishes. The caper bush grows extensively in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region and so it is most often used in their native cuisine.
Capers are also cultivated in Spain, Cyprus, Sicily, Greece and France. When the capers are freshly picked, it does not have any tangy or zesty flavor but it is somewhat bitter. But after sun drying them and then brining, it develops a sharp flavor which can impart a certain savoriness to a dish.
Capers comes in a variety of sizes, from peppercorn sized ones to ones that are as large as olives. Smaller the size of capers, the more valuable it is regarded to be.
All about Capers
Capers are usually picked by hand and so requires a lot of manual labor. The caper buds have to be picked at a certain time of the day and when they reach the proper size. Capers are about the size of corn kernels when they are plucked from the bushes but rapidly shrink on being sun dried. City dweller can find capers in the market.
After the capers are picked and sun dried, they are pickled in a mixture of brine and vinegar. Capers pickled in salt are called salted capers. Pickling the capers gives them a unique piquant taste, similar to that of pickled olives. They are dark green to olive green in color and range from 7mm to 14mm in size. The small sized capers are more expensive.
Caper tastes pungent, peppery and lemony in flavor. During the pickling process, it releases mustard oils, which gives them the unique pungent flavor. This makes it an excellent ingredient for making sauces, gravies and salad dressings. It is mostly used in Sicilian and Italian food. The flavor of capers harmonizes the richness of a creamy pasta sauce.