Capers are a favorite for many household meals because of the burst of flavor they add to dishes. You can have them brined or opt to use the capers dried. The capers have a distinct lemony, salty flavor that also has a hint of olive. People use them to add tanginess and a tad of texture to a variety of recipes, including pastas, sauces, and meats. However, capers have a strong taste; hence, they are added sparingly into meals. That means you will need to take care when throwing in the capers into the dish you are cooking so that they do not overwhelm the flavors of other ingredients in the meal.
Capers are harvested from the Capparis inermis or Capparis spinosa flowers. They are the unripened buds of the flowers. The Capparis inermis are prickly perennial plants whose origins can be traced to the Mediterranean and some sections of Asia. The use of capers dates back to 2000 B.C. where they are mentioned in a dish in the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh. The capers are harvest when they are green and unripen, then dried in the sun before being pickled in wine, vinegar, salt, or brine. They are peas-sized balls with a tangy lemonish flavor that is close to that of green olives. Try growing your own capers and grow different varieties for different flavors in your cooking.
The capers can differ in size, and the buds can be as small as olive to as tiny as a petite green pea. Of the many varieties of capers available, the nonpareil from the South of France is the most prized type of capers. Other capers include surfines, and these are slightly bigger. The larger the capers, the more pronounced their flavor and acidity. Therefore, you need to chop up the big capers before adding them to your dish.
Harvesting the caper buds is by hand, and given their how much they are a valued form of spice, then a small jar of these green balls can seem excessive. If you still want to add some flavor to your meal but cannot get the capers, then pickled nasturtium seeds are an excellent alternative.
Do not confuse the capers with the caperberries; the latter are fruits, and the former are flower buds. The caper berries are large than the carpers, some are even bigger than olives and have a long, cherry-like stem. The berries have tiny seeds inside that look the same as those of the kiwi fruit. They can also be picked like the capers to make a garnish, but often do well when used to make cocktails and martinis.
Cooking With Capers
Capers are a favorite choice for garnishing and season meals in the Mediterranean region. They often feature highly in Italian recipe for pasta puttanesca and chicken piccata. They also are used in making the French Skate Meunier with browned butter. The capers are loved for the piquant sour, saltiness they add to sauces, salads, roasted vegetables, dressings, and other recipes. They have a vinegary burst that is excellent for complementing fish such as salmons. In America, the capers are a staple in making the New-York bagels that have some nova lox and cream cheese.
For some dishes, it is wise to rinse the capers and reduce the vinegary in them so that they can release their authentic flavor. In most cases, the capers are added to the recipe toward the end of the preparation of the meal. It allows for these small buds to maintain their shape and signature taste.
Caper Recipes To Try
You can partner the capers with lemon to complement their olive-lemony flavor. And since they go well with fish, you can use them to garnish your meal. For instance, you can pair your broiled tuna with some lemon caper sauce.
• Try the veal in tuna-caper sauce to experience and exhilarating culinary adventure. If you want something without that heavy lemony kick, then grilled caper and dill salmon may be the thing for you.
• If you are making a bowl of salad, then make a tahini caper salad dressing. You then drizzle the dressing on top of your salad to give it some zing. The taste may sway you to try the dressing on other dishes.
• If you are making some paprika, then you add the capers to bring in some tangy flavor when paired with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, and even goat cheese.
• For some a fun dish for lunch, you can make a simple pasta with pine nuts, capers, and olives. If you are having a rack of lamb for dinner, then complement it with some herb-caper sauce.