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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.


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