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What Are Capers?

Know Your Ingredients: Capers

Like hearts of palm, capers have become a fixture in salad bars, smoked salmon spreads, and meat marinades. But besides their characteristically piquant flavor, what do we know about them? Capers have played a significant role in Mediterranean cuisine for thousands of years; early dishes have been traced back to before 3000 BC. These tiny green dots are the immature flower buds of a thorny, prickly bush that's widespread all over the Middle East and Mediterranean.

Processing the buds is labor-intensive, as they must be plucked at a specific point in the maturation process. The bud, which is generally flavorless when fresh, develops an intense, sharp flavor after the blossoms are sun-dried and brined in vinegar, salt, or wine. And while they range in size from 7 mm to the size of a small olive, smaller caper varieties are more aromatic and come with a higher price tag.

Are you astonished to hear that capers have been preserved for thousands of years? What are your favorite ways to enjoy them?

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Join The Conversation
audrina audrina 6 years
I love capers!!! I like them in alot of dishes but my favorite way is in chicken piccata. I will have to try the bagel and cream cheese though. It sounds yummy!
amandaaa amandaaa 6 years
yummy, love them. i first had them in a chicken piccata dish. fell in love.
Zulkey Zulkey 6 years
also a few weeks ago I was at Noca in Phoenix (thanks to reading about it here in the James Beard nominations list) and had fried capers in their burratta appetizer and the whole thing was fantastic. yum.
Zulkey Zulkey 6 years
last night I had them in some delicious stuffed plum tomatoes I made, along with some panko, parmesan, olives and parsley.
chiefdishwasher chiefdishwasher 6 years
I put them in a light pan sauce over pan grilled pork tenderloin slices.
ktc71 ktc71 6 years
Love them!
jhig jhig 6 years
No. Not a fan of capers.
Advah Advah 6 years
I'd eat them in any shape or form. Sauces, salads, pizzas, or just like that. :p
Spectra Spectra 6 years
I happen to love them, but my husband can't stand them. I like them on salads or with pickles.
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 6 years
love love love!!!!
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 6 years
Definitely with lox. Yum.
mellie_608 mellie_608 6 years
I love capers in many recipes, but my favorite is Chicken Piccata!
leslievanhouten leslievanhouten 6 years
love capers, they're like mini olives. I can't eat lox & bagels without them.
yvettecq yvettecq 6 years
mmm, I love capers! Whether in a salad or in puttanesca sauce or with carpaccio, these little guys add a lot of flavor! just the right amount of tangy/saltiness with a little crunch...;-)
aimeeb aimeeb 6 years
Never had them...
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