Capers, a Mediterranean delicacy that will enrich many of your favorite dishes. Get to know all her faces!

Capers are a delicacy that is popular all over the world.

What is important to know about them?

What are their species?

What bush does it come from?

In this article, you will learn what are the health benefits of eating them, where you can use them everywhere, and a lot of other tips.

What exactly are capers?

These are undeveloped flower buds that are harvested from the tropical bush of thorny capers. After harvesting, the buds are left to wither in the shade and left for three months in salt or oil. Capers prepared in this way have a salty, sour, slightly sharp and, depending on the preparation, also bitter taste. After treatment, they have a dark green color
and the size of a pea.

What is the difference between classic capers and thorny capers?

If the immature bud is not plucked, it will eventually develop into a fruit. These fruits are larger than the largest capers, about the size of an olive, and are attached to a long, cherry-like stalk. The fruits have very small seeds inside that are similar to kiwi seeds. When loaded, they form an interesting decoration for some drinks such as Bloody Mary and Martini.

Spiny caper fruits and caper buds on a plate.

Nutritional values of capers

In the following table, look at the comparison of nutritional values in 100 g of pickled capers and pickled capers.

Nutritional values per 100 g Capers in pickle Pickled fruits
Energy 36 kcal 17 calories
Proteins 0 g 0 g
Fat 0 g 0 g
Carbohydrates 3.6 g 3.3 g
Sodium 3,107 mg 2,800 mg
Fiber 3.6 g 3.3 g

Why is it appropriate to include capers in our diet?

Eating capers has several health benefits such as

They have antioxidant properties

Capers are rich in flavonoid compounds including rutin and quercetin. Both of these compounds are powerful sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to prevent free radicals that can cause cancer and skin diseases. Rutin helps smooth blood circulation and can be very helpful in treating strained blood vessels.

They contain a lot of minerals

You will find iron, calcium, copper and high levels of sodium in capers.

They are a storehouse of vitamins

Capers contain vitamin A, vitamin K, niacin and riboflavin. Vitamin A improves vision and helps us see in the dark. It may also reduce the risk of certain cancers. This essential vitamin helps our body fight infection and maintains our immune system. Vitamin K plays a vital role in bone health. It reduces the risk of blood clotting. For a change, niacin protects against cardiovascular diseases and also supports cognitive functions, the nervous and digestive systems. Riboflavin, also called a B vitamin, helps the body turn food into the fuel that gives us energy. It is also known to support adrenal function. It thus helps to maintain a healthy nervous system.

They contain a lot of fiber

Fiber reduces constipation. A tablespoon of capers contains 0.3 grams of fiber, which is about 3 percent of the recommended daily fiber intake.

They help with the treatment of skin disorders

Capers are used in the treatment of skin disorders such as skin redness, irritation and pimples. That’s why you can find them in various skin products. In addition, thanks to their antioxidant properties, they help slow down the aging process.

They support hair growth

Capers are also widely used in various hair products because they are rich in vitamin B and iron. Vitamin B supports blood circulation in our body. It thus maintains the overall health of the hair, as blood circulation is the primary condition for healthy and shiny hair. Iron helps prevent hair loss.

Other health benefits of capers

  • destroys some of the by-products found in meat and foods rich in fat
  • they relieve rheumatism
  • they help clear up coughs
  • contain a small dose of antihistamines (part of allergy medicines)
  • relieve bloating
  • they help keep diabetes under control
  • relieves dry skin (can be applied directly to the skin to keep it hydrated)

Vitamins and minerals

Look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that pickled capers contain.

Vitamins and minerals Quantity in 100 g of capers recommended daily dose
Folates 23 μg 6%
Niacin 0.652 mg 4.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.027 mg 0.5%
Pyridoxine 0.023 mg 2%
Riboflavin 0.139 mg 11%
Thiamin 0.018 mg 1.5%
Vitamin A 138 IU 4%
Vitamin C 4.3 mg 7%
Vitamin E 0.88 mg 6%
Vitamin K 24.6 mcg 20.5%
Sodium 2954 mg 197%
Potassium 40 mg 1%
Calcium 40 mg 4%
Copper 0.374 mg 42%
Iron 1.67 mg 21%
Magnesium 33 mg 8%
Manganese 0.078 mg 3%
Phosphorus 10 mg 1%
Selenium 1.2 mcg 2%
Zinc 0.32 mg 3%

Side effects of capers

Capers should be avoided if you are on a low sodium diet, as capers are a rich source of sodium. This makes them naturally retain water , which can make you feel bloated.

A common sign of excessive consumption of capers is extreme thirst . So try to consume them in moderate amounts.

If you suffer from high blood pressure, you should avoid them. Excess sodium increases blood volume because it retains water. Excessive sodium intake could put the body at risk for heart disease.

Another side effect of excessive consumption of capers is the risk of developing osteoporosis . Sodium reduces bone density. It also prevents the body from absorbing calcium, which is essential for building and maintaining bone health. A weak bone condition often leads to osteoporosis. And if you already have osteoporosis, better stay away from capers.

You should also avoid capers if you are pregnant or about to undergo any surgery.

Where to buy capers and how to store them properly?

You should be able to find capers in well-stocked grocery stores, supermarkets and health food stores. They can also be found in specialty and gourmet grocery stores as well as online. Capers are usually sold in small jars in vinegar. You can find them in the pickled food aisle next to the olives.

Capers can be either pickled or salted and this determines how they should be stored. Capers in brine should be completely submerged and will last nine months or more in the refrigerator. Unopened jars can be stored in the pantry. Capers in salt can be stored at room temperature for up to six months. Foul odors and a dark color in the jar (except for any spices) are signs that the capers have gone bad and need to be discarded.

Types of capers

Commercial capers are labeled and sold by size. Buds range from small (about the size of a small green pea) to the size of a small olive. In general, the smallest capers will have the smoothest texture and better flavor. Larger capers are more acidic, so it’s best to use them sparingly. The smaller the capers, the more desirable they are, and therefore the more expensive.

Each size was marked with the following label:

  • Nepareil: up to 7 mm
    Originating from the south of France, they are called French nonpareils and are the most prized.
  • Surfines: 7-8 mm
  • Capuchins: 8-9 mm
  • Capotes: 9-11 mm
  • Fines: 11-13 mm
  • Gross: 14+ mm
Diagram of the size and types of individual types of capers,

Capers and their uses in the kitchen

Capers are very popular in the Mediterranean area. They are known for being the main ingredient in various even thal recipes . The French add them to the dish Skate Meuniere and they are an essential ingredient in a number of Spanish tapas .

These small, green buds can lend a tangy sour and salty flavor to many other recipes. Little preparation is required and they can be easily added to salads (including pasta, chicken and potato), used as a flavoring or garnish , or finely chopped into dressings and sauces .

They are also excellently combined with roasted vegetables and a number of main dishes or used as a pizza topping . They are a great complement to fish and lamb . Quite often you will find capers in combination with lemon , which complements their natural lemon-olive taste. Other popular additions are cheese and nuts .

Use in recipes:

How to properly work with capers in the kitchen?

Pickled capers can be used in cooking without modification, better quality capers pickled only in salt must be rinsed before use so that their taste does not overpower the taste of the other ingredients of the dish. Because of their strong flavor, it’s best to use them sparingly (especially the larger ones). Larger capers are also best chopped before use. Some recipes, such as various sauces, may call for finely chopped capers, while others call for them to be pureed, such as for tapenades. Most of the time, you simply add them to a hot pan with other ingredients, usually towards the end of the cooking process. Thanks to this, it will retain its shape and its characteristic taste.

If you don’t have capers available at the moment, you can replace their salty taste with finely chopped green olives. Pickled watercress seeds also work well.

How to preserve capers?

Unfortunately, unlike many other garden fruits such as tomatoes, capers cannot be eaten raw. Well, you can, but it’s a really bitter bite.

Like olives, capers can be preserved with salt or vinegar. In both cases, it is important to remove stems and loose dirt. Rinse thoroughly in a colander. Soak the capers in clean water for three days, changing the water every day.

Canning in salt

  1. Dry the capers with a towel.
  2. Layer them in a small glass, always adding a few capers, then a teaspoon of coarse sea salt, and repeat.
  3. Screw the lids on the jars and shake to distribute the salt.
  4. Remove the lid and replace with a single layer of paper towel.
  5. Use a rubber band to secure the napkin.
  6. Place the jar in a place where there will be air flow, but not in direct sunlight.
  7. Every day, drain the liquid that has accumulated and add another teaspoon of salt.
  8. After about a week, or when the capers stop producing liquid, transfer to a clean jar and cover with a lid.
  9. Store on a shelf in a cool, dark place for up to one year.
  10. Rinse off the salt before use.

Pickled capers

  1. To make one cup of capers, thoroughly stir a solution of 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 cup water, and 2 tablespoons coarse, non-iodized salt until the salt dissolves.
  2. Place the capers in a jar, pour the solution, screw on the lid, shake gently and store in the refrigerator.
  3. They will be ready to eat after about one week, but they will be even tastier after a month.
Pickled capers in a jar.

Cultivation of capers

Spiny caper

The thorny caper bush, on which capers grow, comes from the Mediterranean and requires a dry and warm climate and a lot of sun to grow. In their natural environment, the bushes are evergreen. In those parts of the country where it gets colder, it is best to grow thorn caper in a container and let it overwinter indoors.

Spiny capers can grow 90-150 cm tall and spread 120-150 cm wide. They like well-drained, rocky soil similar to that preferred by olive trees.

They are so fond of masonry that they can be seen growing on the stone walls of ancient buildings all over Italy!

Spiny caper in the wild.

Caper harvest

Immature buds are ready to harvest when they are dark, olive green and at least 6 millimeters wide. They can also be harvested when they grow up to 14 millimeters, after which they begin to expand into their flower form.

History of capers

Capers probably originated in the arid regions of western and central Asia, as they were used there for thousands of years – they are mentioned in Gilgamesh, possibly the earliest written record attested and found on ancient Sumerian clay tablets from around 2700 BC Mentioned also Apicius as well as Dioscorides, a surgeon in Nero’s army, who confirmed that they were initially used by the ancient Greeks, who not only used them as a cooking ingredient, but also used the roots and leaves of the plant for medicinal purposes.

Currently, they are generally found in the Mediterranean region and grow wild on walls or rocks in coastal areas.

Milan & Ondra

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