Considered both a condiment and ingredient, the caper is the immature flower bud of the caper bush, a perennial native to Asia and the Mediterranean.
If you’re looking for the perfect burst of vinegar or brine in your next dish, you just might want to check these little berries out!
The Caper Bush
Caperberries come from the caper bush, a perennial plant that not only produces capers but also is frequently identified by pink or white flowers and rounded leaves. Native to the Mediterranean region, the caper bush – or Capparis spinosa – is a shrub-like plant with fragrant flowers.
Throughout history, the caper bush has developed certain traits to help reduce high daily temperature and radiation impact. Additionally, the plant can survive when there isn’t enough water during the growing seasons.
Though capers have been used in dishes throughout history, its recent introduction to some European countries and the United States has led to an increase in growth since the late 1980s. The main producers of capers today include:
- The Iberian Peninsula
The bushes require quite a bit of sunlight and a long growing period, and caper berries are typically harvested after three months.
The caper berries are produced before the plant fully flowers; this is because the ‘berries’ are actually the flowers during their bud stage.
An Acquired Taste
You may hear the word “berry” and immediately think of a fruit that’s sweet or sour. However, capers are typically brined with vinegar and salt, and can actually have quite the pungent or sharp taste. This burst of salt flavor is great for several types of dishes across a variety of cuisines.
Though capers and olives look similar, they’re different fruits with a similar flavor profile!
Bringing The Brine To Dessert
Because of the salty nature of caper berries, it might be difficult to imagine them in a dessert. However, their unique flavor profile actually makes them a great addition to something sweet!
Looking to try it out for yourself? Take a peek at these cranberry caper cookies to learn more. To get started with the base of the cookie, you’ll need:
- 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- ½ cup of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- ¾ cups of all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoons of salt
- 6 tablespoons of Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon of instant espresso powder
Check out the rest of the recipe for the caper-filled goodness that tops these cookies!
A Religious Reference
Though capers may not be the most popular fruit today, they are mentioned in Ecclesiastes 12:5. The fruit is meant to represent a symbol of the shortness of human life, as the caper is harvested so soon after blooming.
The Cosmetic Caper
Capers are often used in skin and hair products. Chock full of minerals and vitamins, the fruit has also been used to relieve gas and rheumatic pain.
A Burst Of Flavor
Whether you’re looking to add capers to something new or are just trying the fruit for the first time, these little berries are certainly an interesting addition to your everyday diet!