Monday, May 14, 2012

A most unusal caper

A friend recently asked my wife, "What is a caper?" She wasn't exactly sure (nor was I). I do know what they look and taste like but what am I eating?

My guess was a fruit berry - wrong! "Capers" are actually the flower bud just before it flowers. These are pickled, salted or preserved in oil. Capers are categorized and sold by their size, defined as follows, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable: Non-pareil (up to 7 mm), surfines (7–8 mm), capucines (8–9 mm), capotes (9–11 mm), fines (11–13 mm), and grusas (14+ mm). If the caper bud is not picked, it flowers and produces a fruit called a caperberry.

I also learned that the Greeks make good use of the caper's leaves, which are hard to find outside of Greece. They are pickled or boiled and preserved in jars with brine-like caper buds. Caper leaves are excellent in salads and fish dishes.

Wikipedia claims that capers can be easily grown from seeds. I may have to try that. A caper bush can be productive for nearly 30 years.

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