Capers

What are Capers?
Capers are the unripened flower buds of Capparis spinosa, a prickle perennial plant that is native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia. They have been used as food for thousands of years and are mentioned as a possible ingredient in the Gilgamesh, possibly the oldest written story known, found on ancient Sumerian clay tablets dating back to c.2700 B.C. Today, capers are found growing wild all over the Mediterranean and are now also cultivated in many countries including France, Spain, Italy, Morocco and Algeria.

Capers in the Kitchen
Before bottling, capers are often graded on a scale from 7 to 17 millimeters. In France, they are graded using the terms ‘Nonpareilles’ which are capers under 10mm and considered the best, and ‘Surfines’ which are usually up to 16mm. Capers are usually sold in small jars which can be kept in the cupboard until opened. Once opened, they should be covered and stored in the refrigerator.

Capers can be enjoyed in a variety of pasta and wine sauces, with pizza, fish (anchovies in particular), veal, turkey, meats, relishes, tapenades, artichokes and olives. They are also a key ingredient in Tartare sauce. You may also try frying them and then tossing them into any of the above dishes for a crunchier, crispier flavor and texture.

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