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All About Capers

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Capers are primarily grown in the Mediterranean area and come from the capers bush (Capparis Spinosa). They are unopened green buds of the bush which resembles the rose bush. Capers have been used for centuries by Greeks and Romans. They are a good antioxidant.

Where are Capers Grown?

Though grown in many places, such as the Mediterranean, parts of Asia and Africa, and California, the best ones come from southern France.

Harvesting Capers

Early in the July and August mornings the capers are picked by hand, before they have a chance to blossom. The unopened buds are dried in the sun then pickled in a vinegar brine for about two months or packed in salt to preserve them - almost indefinitely. The ones packed in salt are preferred by chefs for their firmness and taste.

Capers are sorted according to size with the smallest ones, nonpareilles (without peers), the most sought after.

NONPAREILLES 2.5-7 mm   (about the size of a peppercorn)
SURFINES 7 - 8 mm
CAPUCINES 8 - 9 mm
CAPOTES 9-11 mm
FINES 11-13mm
GROSSOS 13 mm and over

Storing Capers

Once opened they need to be refrigerated. They will keep up to 9 months. Make sure the capers are covered with brine before storing. It is best to handle the capers with a new spoon and not your fingers so contamination is kept to a minimum.

Cooking with Capers

Rinse capers thoroughly before using. They are excellent on fish, especially tuna and salmon. Tomato sauce pairs well with capers.

Try this Braised Chicken Breasts with Tomato-Caper Sauce and see how good capers taste!

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