If you are a reader or a travelling enthusiast, you might have already heard about the Mediterranean coastline being famous for growing unique variety of food ingredients. Capers are one of those unique ingredients grown in the Mediterranean region. In the islands of Caspian Sea, Black Sea and Atlantic Ocean, you will also find growing capers. Caper is basically a small flowering bush and mostly grown among the wild.
The reason we are talking so much about this particular ingredient, caper is due to its unique flavor and texture. We have had readers posting a common query about capers. What do capers taste like? This item grown in the outskirts of the wild is a mystery to various foodies. Today, it’s time to unfold that. This article provides a comprehensive review about how does caper actually taste. If you are convinced that caper is compatible with your palate, you can try out some of our special caper recipes.
Introduction to capers
Caper is the bud of a flowering bush. Yes, before the flowers grow completely, they are plucked out within the bud stage. When the bud turns into the color of olive green and the approximate size is that of pea, you would know that it’s time to pluck out the caper. We often found chefs and tourists terming the capers as a special type of berries. You will also find people who mistake capers as olive due to the color.
The smaller the size, the pricier capers are usually. That’s because the flavors are more retained in the small buds. The larger the capers, the flavor distort more. In fact, the most expensive type of caper is ‘nonpareils’ and they are also the smallest. Nonpareils are grown in mostly in France and Italy. The overall taste, texture and flavor vary depending on the plant type. But generally, the best flavors are obtained from buds of spineless plants.
As a foodie perspective, you need to well aware between the difference of caper and caper berries. Capers are the buds and caper berries are the fully grown flowers. While both of them are edible and possess great taste, it is better not to get confused between them. The attributes of caper and caper berries are quite different.
The taste of capers
Now comes the time the answer to the question you have been waiting for. So, what do these wild buds called capers taste like? What best describes the flavor of capers is the term ‘different’. Yes, the taste is not like quintessential sour or sweet berry. The taste is a type of acquired taste. The smell of the caper is pungent and sharp. As far as the taste is considered, it’s a bit salty. Someone who loves to try new flavors, capers in food will make you really happy.
The tangy and lemony flavor of capers makes it popular among all continents alike. In fact, you might have already tasted them in fancy restaurant thinking as an olive. Few years back, even we used to feel same difficulty. That the hotels have such unique flavored olive whereas the store ones are not so good! We realized it a lot later that the hotel actually served capers and not olives. Due to the tangy flavor, they are used to boost flavors of many dishes.
The outlook of capers
Coming to the outlook of capers, you would see that the texture is a bit snappy. Overall the bud is tender and not very hard or squishy. The shape of capers is oval shaped but a bit distorted. The shapes are usually not consistent since buds are plucked during different times. If you need a comparing item, we would say that the size of generic capers is somewhat that of large peas or blueberry. When you are looking to buy capers from store, always go for the smaller ones. The flavor is delicate and it complements the dishes well. Their aroma is more therapeutic and appetizing. But there is a drawback to it, the smaller capers are costly. But we feel that is small price to pay for getting good flavors.
Popular ways to use capers
The chefs gave capers the term ‘flavor booster’. From this name, you can clearly understand any item that requires a twist with the flavor; you can use the tangy and lemony caper. Here we will be discussing some of the common dish types where capers are used.
Be it mac and cheese, spaghetti or classic noodles, caper flavors make the entire recipe extremely palatable. For lasagna and poutine as well, a bit of caper works great. Let’s keep this a secret between us. Try it with your guests and see their reaction.
Veal Piccata fish sauce is the most common sauce where capers are used widely. For piccata sauce, white sauce, wine sauce and a myriad of variety of sauces, capers can be used. You do not have to mash the bud, you can simply keep one piece of caper over the sauce and the sauce can take in its aroma and subtle flavor.
Dressings and Marinades
For turkey, vegetables, Mediterranean dishes, meats, veal and fish marinades and dressings, capers are used. Whenever, you taste really delicious seafood, know that there are capers in them most of the time. Yes, with seafood, some capers or their dressing taste wonderful.
Capers taste great with tom yum soup, clear Thai soups and seafood flavored soups. The Nepali famous cuisine named ‘Thukpa’ tastes absolutely wonderful with capers. Thukpa is a type of soup dipped in noodles. However, we would recommend not using capers in thick Thai soup and corn soups. The tangy flavor of capers overshadows the exclusive taste of those two types of soups. If you want slight lemony flavor in them, you can go for lemon grass instead of capers.
Good buying options for capers
When buying capers, it can be a bit tricky at times. That’s because the processing mechanism is different and it comes in different variants. They are preserved in vinegar, in pickles, in oil and in sea salt. Our recommendation would be to go for capers preserved in sea salt. With pickles and oil, the capers tend to lose their original flavor. But with sea salt, the flavors of caper are fully retained. Before using them in any dish, you must properly rinse the exterior.
Capers are also available in specialty stores. If you do not find capers in sea salt, you can go for capers dipped in brine or vinegar. For those variants, make sure you wipe out the brine and vinegar with warm water before using. There are pros and cons to the variants actually. For instance, capers dipped in vinegar or brine is more long lasting. Their shelf-life is around 6 months. However, the con to this type is that the flavors become subtle. Again, capers dipped in sea salt have less longevity but the flavors are much better here.
Nutritional value of capers
Grown in the wild has its perks. It might be more costly compared to other salad ingredients but there is a reason to it. Capers possess plenty of nutritional value along with being flavorful. Just a heads up, don’t get overwhelmed hearing about all the nutritional values of capers and start adding them with everything. Too much capers tend to ruin the flavor of the dishes.
Possess anti-oxidant properties
For cancer patients, capers work as a healing therapy. It contains an anti-oxidant named ‘rutin’ that mitigates the side effects of chemotherapy to a great extent. Other benefits of this anti-oxidant are prevention from heart diseases, osteoporosis remedy and much more.
High Flavonoid content
Capers are rich in an anti-oxidant flavonoid named quercetin. This variant of flavonoid is very useful for prevention of asthma and heart diseases.
We don’t have to go on and on about the health benefits of fiber. Caper does not look like a food that contains fiber but it surely does surprisingly. If you are planning to lose weight, keeping caper in your diet is a must.
Impacts bone health
Capers have a positive impact on the bone health. They are a good source of calcium and magnesium. These nutrients together make the bones stronger and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Suitable for diabetic patients
Other than these, capers are good for diabetic patients as well. The blood sugar is balanced and reduced with the nutrients present in capers.
Caper storage techniques
Caper storage is the easiest. However, any good news has a catch to it. Although the capers have a decent shelf-life but the flavors tend to go milder with time. We have already discussed that the superstores usually preserve the caper in vinegar or in salt. In either of the cases, when you bring them home, it’s better to keep them in the refrigerator.
If you have read our blogs before, you might have already guessed what we will suggest next. Yes, you must keep the capers in airtight containers. Pro tip-always keep insulated lunch boxes and containers at home for storing food ingredients. Remember one thing, when you are storing capers in brine, always wash the brine before cooking.
Caper recipes for you
Now comes our favorite part when we get to share some exciting recipes with you. Writing this section for you is really therapeutic for us. Good in a sense that sharing mutual love for food is always invigorating. Let’s not wait any longer and get started with the amazing caper recipes.
Scrambled eggs with capers
They say morning shows the day. Start the day with some flavorful breakfast. Tomorrow morning surprise your loved one with scrambled eggs with capers. Everybody enjoys a bite of scrambled eggs with morning coffee. This morning they will love it even more for its unique lemony flavor. You can use this scrambled eggs with caper for reference.
Caper and tomato pasta
We have been talking on and on about how capers taste so good with pasta. So, won’t we share a caper pasta recipe with you? Pasta with flavorful oregano leaves, roasted tomatoes and capers is just what you need in a scenic evening.
From nutritional point of view, we love this caper and tomato pasta recipe. But you are free to experiment with the recipe. As long as it has tomatoes and capers in them, we can assure you that the taste will be great.
If you are looking for some snack able munchies or appetizers for the day, fried capers are the easiest solution for you. With olive oil and corn meal, you can have your fried capers prepared. If you like the capers to be crisp and crunchy, you might want to go for this fried capers recipe. They work as great appetizers or you can use them as salad toppings.
Whenever a chef wants to prepare gourmet salad, capers are a must there. For housewarming parties or friendly gathering, we suggest that you create your own mix of caper salad. Our favorite ingredients for caper salad are tomatoes, onions, chives and lots of pepper.
This spicy and tangy salad is one of the best salads served with meat. Of course, we wouldn’t suggest serving them during the holiday season. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, we tend to eat more. Hence having an extra spicy dish on the menu might not be good option for your stomach. This caper salad recipe is liked by everyone. So, if you are unsure about which ingredients to use, you can for this recipe.