Friday, January 8, 2010
What The heck is a caper ?
Have you ever wondered just what the heck is a caper? Well personally I have never eaten a caper but I see chefs using them on different cooking shows all the time. So I decided to investigate. You can find them in the grocery stores and other various food supply shops, usually in jars swimming in some type of liquid. Upon digging into my various search avenues I discovered that Capers are actually produced from a plant better know as Capparis spinosa in the Mediterranean region. When these buds or berries are a dark greenish color they are ready for picking. Then once harvested they are left to dry in the sun and afterwards placed in a very salty brine solution to pickle . Then they are distributed to stores everywhere.
After tasting them, I found the flavor they have a bit pungent in taste. This is what really makes them ideal as an accent flavor in so many different type's of sauces and recipes. Capers are very salty so always drain them and maybe even rinse
them before you use. Don't really want to use them in major abundance.
Now if you are into Mediterranean, Italian, Sicilian, French or even Greek food chances are you have shared a caper or two. Whether in a pasta salad, tartar sauce, or maybe a chicken or fish dish basted with a special sauce. Last but not least maybe as an olive substitute in your favorite martini mix. As you can see these little pea size berries do make their rounds.
One last thought here on trying capers. You will find that they come in a wide price range too. Much of this depends on the region they were grown, manufacturer and the distributor, as well as where you live and shop. So if your sauce or recipe calls for capers and your thinking maybe these really aren't my thing, or I forgot to pick them up. Try substituting a teaspoon of lemon juice in their place. Should work out to be a nice success too with a little twang added to the overall flavor. Your meal will still be a huge success.
So now that we have discovered the mysteries of the caper, maybe you'll try them and maybe you won't. Which that is ok but as for me.... think I'll pass.