Capparis spinosa L.

Capers are the flower buds of Capparis spinosa L.. The thorny, roughly 1 metre-high caper bush clings to walls and stones with its woody vines. Harvested to make the spice are the unripe and unopened flower buds that are located at the axils of the leaves and must be picked by hand. The greyish green capers are wilted in the shade and then pickled in oil, salt water or vinegar. Capers are divided into quality grades based on their size.

Countries of origin

Mediterranean, North Africa, Arabia
Capers are native to the Mediterranean. The Romans already used them to season fish sauces. Today, the plant is cultivated on large plantations in Turkey, Morocco, near Murica in Spain and on the island of Mallorca.

Flavour and aroma

Fresh capers have hardly any flavour at all. Only after the process of drying and pickling do they develop their pungent, pleasantly bitter flavour. Capers pickled in brine have a biting, but aromatic fragrance. Small capers referred to as “nonpareilles” are the mildest type. Sauces, soups, meat dishes (chicken fricassee), egg dishes, fish, pâté The aroma of capers gives mayonnaise, remoulade, cold and hot sauces a piquant flavour. Tasty in sandwiches, pasta and poultry, capers also pair well with hearty ragouts, casseroles, and hot or cold tomato dishes. Smoked salmon with capers is considered to be a delicacy. To maintain the aroma of capers, they should not be added until the end of the cooking process.

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