What Exactly Are Capers, and How to Use Them

Capers, to go, in our medium lidded container, add a sophisticated flavor to every dish

We love having a jar of capers in the fridge for tossing in salads, soups, pastas and especially easy summer grilled meals.

We think of them as condiments, but what exactly are capers?

Tiny flower buds of the wild and prickly Capparis spinosa bush. We polled our friends, few knew.

Travelers to the mediterranean coast are accustomed to seeing caper bushes growing right on the side of the road—on wall surfaces, cliffs, and hillsides, and they've been a common ingredient in seaside dishes for centuries. If a caper bud is allowed to flower, it will produce the most stunning bloom—the fruit of which is enjoyed as a caper berry, also pickled, and more recently available in the US.

The ancients used the little buds for medicinal purposes and they were on to something. Capers contain a high amount of rutin, a powerful bioflavonoid and antioxidant. And for all that nutritional value, there's that great, pungent and tart taste.

Salted, brined, pickled, or preserved in olive oil, these baby buds add an air of sophisticated flavor to the simplest of dishes, and the scent of meals enjoyed by the seaside.

In the image above, capers in the medium lidded container from our Prep N' Store set wait to be toted for a picnic with the other ingredients of our Salade Niçoise

Try them with chicken and turkey dishes, any fish prepared lightly—pan-fried sole with lemon, butter and parsley is particularly yummy. Pastas with olive oil and garlic are improved with a few capers; toss them with sautéed green olives and minced jalapeño peppers for a quick and hot, out-of-this-world spaghetti pleaser.

Anna Dietze
Anna Dietze


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