Konnichi wa / Great Outdoors
Capers: What Are They and What Do They Taste Like?
Capers are the unripened flower buds of a shrub, or small tree. They come from the Mediterranean and are often used in cooking to add flavor to dishes such as sauces, soups, and stews. Caper's season is short and they can be expensive when not found in bulk quantities. The caper bush has been around for centuries and was first cultivated by ancient Greeks who valued it greatly for its culinary uses.
Watch this video on how to make Garlic Butter Caper Salmon!
What are capers?
Capers (Capparis Spinosa or C. Spinosa) are the unopened flower buds of a small shrub native to the arid climates of southwestern Europe and North Africa of the Mediterranean region, and some parts of Asia. The caper bush produces white, pink or red flowers in late winter to early spring, just before they bloom from April onwards. Harvesting takes place typically around September when the fruit is at its peak ripeness, and the smallest variety generally go for the highest prices.
These immature buds are then pickled in a vinegar or brine solution, and they have the same stronger flavor as an unripened fruit including more acidic notes. The taste is pungent with some sweetness and tartness to it. They also go well alongside cheeses like parmesan or brie because of their tangy-sweet briny flavor.
Capers are essential ingredients for several sauces that can be used on seafood dishes, salads, pasta and pizzas too.
In all these cases you need only a few chopped larger capers and some black pepper added at the end to add that special touch!
What do capers taste like?
Capers have a sharp, tangy and salty taste. They are usually used to enhance the flavor of sauces, soups or stews such as chicken soup.
The caper plant is native to southern Europe but it grows all over the world including in North America. The berries grow on low shrubs that can be found near seashores and other wetlands where they get lots of sun exposure. When the season starts picking up speed towards autumn, plants will often bear flowers with berry-filled buds which then ripen into small red berries when ripe for harvesting in late summer / early fall months (August).
Capers have a wide range of culinary uses and are popular in Mediterranean cuisine. They can be found in sauces, stews and meat dishes; but they are most often used to flavor fish or vegetables such as green beans. Interestingly enough, when it comes to cooking with capers the best way is to use them raw rather than cooked. This preserves their unique tartness and delicate texture that add an extra dimension of flavor for any dish!
Some people may confuse salt-cured cucumbers with capers because both are called "capers" in English (though not everywhere else). But there's no reason to worry about this since you would know what you're looking at if you saw either one - these two ingredients look very different from each other on account of the fact that salt-cured cucumbers are pickles.
Where to buy capers?
The best place to buy capers is in a jar from the fresh-market concept section of your grocery store. You can also find them dried or canned at specialty food stores and some Italian markets (though the canned ones are generally not as good).
How to use capers in cooking
Capers, the small pickled buds of a Mediterranean bush plant, are most often used to add flavor and aroma to savory dishes such as fish stews or pasta sauces. They can also be chopped and added to fried rice; sprinkled atop pizza dough before baking; boiled in butter until golden brown and served with grilled eggplant slices for dipping purposes.
They are also popular in dishes such as chicken piccata, lox with cream cheese on a bagel, potato salad, and salad dressings. And can occasionally be found in Bloody Mary recipes.
Recipes with capers
Caperberry Champagne Margarita Recipe
This recipe is made with champagne, triple sec, and a splash of lemon juice. It's topped off with cilantro-lime salt and capers for a little tangy bite to this drink.
Salmon with Garlic Capers & Lemon Juice Sauce Recipe
The sauce in the recipe consists of olive oil, garlic cloves, parsley leaves or dried parsley flakes (or both), lemon juice, capers, red pepper flakes or paprika for heat if desired. To make it vegan substitute soy milk instead of cow’s milk.
The salmon is seasoned on one side only before baking then served skinless so that diners can decide whether they want their fish raw or cooked.
Caprese Salad Recipe
This recipe is made with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves that are drizzled in olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar (or any kind of vinegars) before being tossed together to serve.
This salad can be served as a side dish or an appetizer for parties. Alternatively it could also be eaten on its own as a light meal when there’s nothing else left to eat!
The capers added provide the perfect salty punch, so don’t forget those if you want this recipe more flavorful than just sweet from the tomatoes and acidic tangy taste from the balsamic vinegar.
How long can you store capers?
The best way to store the tart caper berries so that they'll last as long as possible is by refrigerating them in a clean jar or container. The cool temperature will discourage mold growth and keep the aroma from evaporating too quickly. If stored properly, one should expect their jar of capers - whether U.S., Italian, French (or otherwise) - to stay good for about one year without any noted deterioration in quality.
The taste and smell could diminish greatly over the course of an entire year so don't expect anything gourmet out of those old capers that have been sitting around collecting dust on your shelf!
Final thoughts on capers
Hope you enjoyed this article on capers!
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