Monday, October 20, 2014

About Capers

A flowering Caper Plant
When you hear the word "Capers," you probably think of the Caper Bud. When American Recipes (including mine) mention Capers, they mean Caper Buds by default.

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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This is being shared at:
Clever Chicks
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16 comments:

  1. Fascinating! My husband loves recipes with caper buds in them.

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    1. Thanks for visiting - I'm looking forward to seeing more of your posts on Orphan Care!

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  2. Thanks! I have read and forgotten what they are a few times, and just last week my husband and I were trying to recall....

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    1. Glad you dropped by again! Capers are one of the 4 food groups in our house ; )

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  3. What a beautiful flower it makes. Now we know why it has thorns!

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    1. So good to have you visit! I always enjoy your blog - especially the Vegan & Lenten recipes : )

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  4. I used to think that Capers looked like Barnacles LOL - I started using them when I was in my earlier 20s but don't use them often. I should get some to have in my pantry again...thanks for the reminder!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for vising again - I always enjoy your blog : )

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  5. Very interesting write up on capers, they sure are pretty flowers and I love to cook with them. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Cheers,
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick
    http://www.The-Chicken-Chick.com

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting & for hosting! : )

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  6. I love capers! Never really gave much thought to how they grew or where they came from - thanks for the info!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting again, Annie! I really appreciate you hosting the Virtual Vegan Potluck! : )

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  7. Interesting! The only time I ever use capers is on a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon but boy is it delicious! I would be curious to try the jar of pickled plant though :) Thanks for sharing on the Art of Home-Making Mondays this week!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting & for hosting! Capers are great in so many things! We often serve them at the table along with Olives & Pickles just to make a meal zippier! : )

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  8. Had never heard of Capers before. I have learned some very important information today thanks to you. Visiting from Healthy Happy Green & Natural blog hop!

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  9. Very interesting.
    I have a jar of capers in the pantry that I haven't opened yet and have never actually tried them before!!!

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