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So Just What are Capers?


Numerous recipes list capers as an ingredient … but many cooks eliminate it because they simply aren’t familiar with what they are or don’t know what to expect them to taste like. So just what are capers?

The short answer is they are the unripened flower buds of a prickly plant called Capparis spinosa, which grows in the Mediterranean and parts of Asia.

They range in size from tiny green pea-like to a larger green olive-like size.

Commonly you see them as the smaller version in tall skinny jars in the by the olives or imported section in the grocery store. The picture above is one commonly found in grocery stores and imported from Spain.

Store them in a cool dry place and refrigerate them after opening.

Capers are hand-picked then pickled in vinegar, wine, brine or salt. This process brings out the lemony flavor of them. The salty, sour flavor can really add a wonderful layer of flavor to a dish.

Unless otherwise noted in the recipe, you can safely assume you are to drain them before adding them to your dish.

You will find them frequently on the ingredient list of Italian and Spanish recipes, as well as, others. They are added to sauces, salads, vegetables and entrées.

One of my favorite restaurants serves a terrific German Schnitzel topped with capers sautéed in butter… it truly adds to the flavor of the Schnitzel.

3 comments:

Simply Creations July 20, 2011 at 8:34 AM  

You mentioned that capers have a "lemony" flavor. Someone once told me that they are very similar in taste to an olive; any similarities to an olive?

I've always wanted to try capers, but my husband will not touch anything with olives ~ so I have to be very careful what ingredients I use.

Thank you for great blog & newsletter!

Linda July 20, 2011 at 11:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda July 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM  

I am a picky olive eater... so I guess you asked the right person.. I like black olives and I wouldn't say that capers taste like them at all... however... I don't particularly care for green olives ... I wouldn't say that capers taste like them either but they have a slight salty brine taste that I guess could remind someone of a green olive...

Now that I've totally confused you... I would say the answer depends on just how much he hates olives.... a good part of the flavor of the olive is the brine it's in...

When using capers you definitely have to drain the liquid... that's a must...

I wouldn't recommend you try putting them on a salad .. because the flavor will be strong...

In cooking ... like the recipe for Chicken Cacciatore for example.. the flavor is slight because of all the other strong flavors... and it's cooked quite a while ... and in my humble opinion.. it is really only a lemony hint of flavor.. I wouldn't say it adds an olive flavor

I mentioned in the post that my favorite restaurant serves a Schnitzel with capers cooked in butter... there the flavor is stronger but well balanced with butter..

Warren kind of turned his nose up at them too at first and he likes olives... so I had him taste the meat with butter "sauce' and capers.. and he liked it... why don't you try that first... melt butter .. about 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and saute DRAINED capers (about 1 tablespoon) for about 5 minutes ... then put some of them with some of the butter on top of a breaded chicken cutlet... and have him try it... he can always pick them off if he decides he doesn't like them.

Thanks for stopping by and your kind comments!

Have a great day!

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