January 10, 2018 Posts

Have you often stared into that half empty jar of capers in your refrigerator door and wondered what the heck are capers anyway and what else besides a garnish for smoked salmon they can be used for? If they aren't already, capers should be a staple in your pantry, simply because they can add bright flavor and complexity to any dish.

This ancient ingredient which hails from arid climates such as Italy, Morocco, Spain and Turkey is thought to have medicinal qualities. Some believe these briny beauties can help cure a hangover, aid in mental alertness and help circulation. They are also virtually calorie-free - a tablespoon of capers contains only two calories and no fat. In Ayurvedic medicine capers are believed to stimulate the liver, relieve flatulence, and reduce rheumatism.

So what is the difference between capers and caper berries? Besides their size, caper berries being significantly larger than capers, is actually the berry of a caper plant. The caper on the other hand is the immature flower bud of the caper plant. If the caper buds were to go unharvested they would bloom into little white and pink flowers, and eventually produce caper berries.

Generally, capers should be rinsed in cold water before being added to a recipe. Once you have opened your jar of capers be sure to store it in the refrigerator and make sure that any remaining capers are well covered in their original brine. In most recipes calling for capers you can substitute with caper berries if you want a slightly less acidic result, however the opposite will not provide the same results. When a recipe calls for caper berries, using capers will leave you with a much more acidic dish.
Uses for caper berries:
Caper berries can be eaten as you would olives or pickles. Add them to martinis instead of green olives - no need to rinse in this case as the brine adds more depth of flavor to a dirty martini. Add them to a beet and feta cheese salad for a briny bite.

Chicken cacciatore with linguini and caper berries:

Mixed olives with caper berries

Caper berry stuffed with goat cheese

Roasted white asparagus and caper berries

Uses for capers:
An essential ingredient to steak tartare and tartar sauce to accompany fish. Chicken piccata, pasta alla puttanesca.

Chicken in cream caper sauce

Lemon caper salad dressing:

Caprese Salad with fried capers and basil

Asparagus fries with caper aioli

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