|A flowering Caper Plant|
If you're like I was a few years ago, you never gave any further thought to where Caper Buds come from other than the tiny, overpriced jars at the grocery.
Or, perhaps you know of the more obscure Caper Berries, available from specialty markets here in the U.S. Or the larger, less overpriced jars of the Buds also available at specialty markets.
|Caper Buds - When American Recipes say "Capers" this is what they mean.|
But, when I went to Cyprus and asked for Capers, I was quite surprised when I was asked "What kind?" (What do you mean what kind? The Caper kind! ; ) Turns out they come in Bud, Berry or Leaf & Stem Varieties!
You see, Capers grow in Cyprus. They're not an exotic food there, any more than a Dill Pickle is an exotic food here in the U.S.
|The Caper Plant & Blossom with several visible Buds.|
Many Cypriots go out and forage for their own, and then pickle them. Each family has its own special pickling recipe. I'm not aware of Capers being cultivated (although perhaps they are) but rather most of them grow wild and are foraged. Foraging for and preserving them is a traditional craft, perhaps comparable to American customs like making one's own Jam. Some Monasteries also preserve their own, and sell the product to help support the monastery. And, like any other traditional food, they can be purchased from the grocery.
|Preserved Caper Plant|
But, do you suppose that Cypriots only preserve the buds or berries? Nope. they preserve the whole plant - thorns and all! And they're incomparably delicious! (the thorns soften and don't pierce your mouth, although they are a little pointy)
|A Jar of Pickled Capers|
|Sometimes Capers grow in the strangest places - like weeds!|
If you find a Caper Plant in flower, they're quite beautiful. But, be warned! You should always carry a large stick with you when you go to harvest them. For reasons I don't understand, the Caper plant is a favorite haunt of snakes!
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