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What Are Capers? Your Questions Answered!

Last Updated on October 10, 2023

What are capers? You may be familiar with them if you like puttanesca sauce or salad bars.

These little green taste bombs are derived from the Mediterranean plant called Capparis spinosa and have been used to improve many cuisines worldwide.

what plant are capers from

This article will explain the true nature of these amazing flower buds and all you need to know about capers, from their history and particular flavor character to their function in culinary arts and health advantages.

It’s time to solve this essential ingredient puzzle together! Let’s do it! 😛

What Are Capers?

what are cappers

Did you know that capers are pickled pea-sized florets?

The buds of the plant are removed from a shrub-like bush before they have a chance to bloom. They are spiky perennial plants native to the Mediterranean and parts of Asia. 

Its usage goes back to 2,000 B.C. This plant offers immature florets of Capparis spinosa or inermis. Their scent drew people’s attention before they were used in the cooking process.

The shrub beautifies rocky areas with its solid thorns and pinkish-white blossoms. Its new buds are its actual worth.

These little green blooms become salty flavor bombs utilized globally when plucked and dried in the sun or either cured in salt or pickled.


what are capers used for

Although they are also cultivated in Morocco, Italy, Spain, as well as Asia and Australia. Some thrive better than others. They are famous throughout the Mediterranean region, especially in Italy, Greece, and Spain. 

Caper plants thrive in these warm, bright conditions. Asia, North Africa, and elsewhere have this plant.

Whatever the flavor, chefs and home cooks love this little unripened floret. European-grown capers have saline tones, while Asian capers have delicate scents.

Capers vs. Caperberries

what are non pareil capers

The caperberry is not the same as the caper. If the immature bud is not harvested, it matures into a caperberry fruit.

The fruit is bigger than the largest caper, about the proportions of a small olive, and is linked to a long, cherry-like stem. 

Caperberries have extremely tiny seeds inside that resemble kiwi seeds. They provide a fascinating topping for bloody mary drinks and martinis when pickled.

What Does Capers Taste Like?

capers what is it

Capers taste tangy, lemony, olivey, and salty. Packaging adds to the salty, vinegary flavor of capers.

Their saline and sour flavor with delicate texture lends meals depth, making them a frequent component. The salty and sour flavor bombs provide a particular punch to many dishes.

Often described as saline with citrus undertones and a trace of mild herbal bitterness. European gastronomy uses them to enhance sauces, pasta, and Mediterranean dishes.

They provide a fragrant element to every meal, whether sprinkled on a paste salad or used in your favorite recipes. Larger capers are more acidic, they are best used sparingly.

How to Use Capers in Various Dishes

what are capers in cooking

These florets are ready to use straight from the jar. Many caper-based recipes call for rinsing the capers to eliminate some of the vinegar and salt, allowing a genuine taste to come out.

Some recipes require finely chopped capers, such as sauces, while others utilize them in a puree, such as tapenade. These florets are a classical favorite.  Pasta puttanesca and piccata are famous for their main component.

In India, plant buds and fruits are pickled. They used to garnish and add an acidic accent to a New York-style bagel in the U.S.

These tiny green buds provide a sour, saline taste to many dishes. They may be added to pasta, wraps, and potato salads, used as a seasoning or garnish, or diced finely for dressings and sauces with minimum prep.

They’re also roasted with veggies and used as pizza toppings and other meals. Capers’ inherent lemon-olive taste is typically paired with lemon. Other typical accompaniments include cheese and almonds.

Health Benefits of Capers

what do capers taste like

These florets are a source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that improve health.

They are little yet nutritious. Low in calories and fat, these beans are a healthy complement to a diet. They are also high in antioxidants, which protect the body from free radicals.

Capers also include vitamins A, C, K, E, iron, antioxidants, and calcium. Anti-inflammatory flavonoids are also in capers. They can add flavor to many recipes and supply nutrients for your health.

Researchers believe these florets offer anti-inflammatory and antibacterial qualities that boost the immune system. Their high flavonoids and quercetin concentration may also fight cancer.

They are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a healthy addition to a diet. Next time you sprinkle them on pasta or salads, remember that you may improve their flavor and health.

(Source: Healthline)

How To Store Capers

Capers should be preserved in an airtight container in brine or salt. Completely submerged brine-packed are edible for nine months or more in the fridge.

Unopened jars can go in the pantry. Capers with salt may be kept at room temperature for six months.

Foul scents and dark jar color (without spices) indicate rotten capers and should be thrown.

Where to Buy Capers

A glass of caper should be in every well-stocked supermarket and grocery aisle. Commercial capers can also be found online and at gourmet food stores. The typical glass of caper is four ounces of vinegar brine.

They were among the olives in the preserved food aisle. The price of tiny nonpareil capers is like gourmet olive jars.

Wild caper bushes produce edible immature buds. Euphorbia lathyris, poisonous caper spurge, looks similar.

Thus correct identification is essential. The shrub may be grown from seeds or cuttings in the backyard.

The plant can tolerate heat but not cold and should be overwintered in northern climates—harvest and brine caper buds to your preferred size.

In countries outside the US, you may find salt-packed capers. It should be rinsed in warm water before use and may taste more flowery than brined.

Capers Substitute in Recipes

There are many ingredients to substitute briny flavor and their taste and texture.

pickled cornichons

Finely chopped green olives, with their saline taste, are a popular replacement. Pickled gherkins or cornichons add flavor and crunch to foods. Use minced dill pickles for a milder taste.

These alternatives give the same zest and depth of flavor as capers and may be included in pasta sauces, shellfish, and salads.

If you don’t have capers in your cupboard, many alternative items may provide a saline taste to your meal.

The Bottomline…

Ultimately, capers are the unripened florets of the thorny shrub Capparis spinosa.

These small green flavor bombs deliver a saline punch and are typically used as a spice or garnish for meals like pasta and shellfish in classical cuisine.

They give an aromatic spice to any dish with their distinct flavor and several health benefits. To keep these florets fresh, keep them in a cold, dry location.

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Capers are little, pickled florets that lend acidity and salt to foods. They range from small nonpareil capers to huge caper berries and are utilized in classical cuisine.


Olives and capers are from separate plants but share many tastes, uses, and regions.

Olive trees produce olives, and caper plants produce capers. The two are prepared identically and packed in brine or salt for a robust, savory flavor.


Capers originate from the Mediterranean plant Capparis spinosa, which is currently grown worldwide.

The plant produces little flower buds plucked before blooming and then brined or cured to improve taste.

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