You might be familiar with capers if you enjoy puttanesca sauce or salad bars. These tiny, bitter-tasting green buds are what many salads and other foods garnish with. But what are capers exactly? Learn everything there is to know about these not so fancy tiny green creatures. In your grocery store, you might spot them in jars or cans and add a few to your cart, or you might completely ignore them. In either case, you probably still have a lot to learn about capers. Read on to learn more about its flavour, usage, and health advantages. 

According to The New Food Lover's Companion by Herbst and Herbst, capers (Capparis spinosa) are the flower buds of the pungent caper bush that grows wild in the Mediterranean region and some parts of Asia and dates back to 600 B.C. From Iran to Australia, the perennial plant is now grown all over the world. Mediterranean cuisine depends heavily on capers because they give many dishes colour, flavour, and perfume. 

Taste 

Caper's distinct and unusual flavour character makes it challenging to define. Fresh capers have a flavour that is vegetal, flowery, bitter, and just a little tangy. Commercial capers are prepared in one of two ways for the consumer because their natural, pungent profile might be unappealing. Producers of capers either dry-salt cure or pickle the tiny buds in a brine of water, salt, and acid (like vinegar) to make them appetising. Despite the numerous preparation techniques, the flavours produced are the same: salty, briny, and tart capers. The overall flavour is still strong, and the aromatic and vegetal elements are lessened but are still prominent. 

Storage 

Pickled caper jars can be kept unopened for 12 to 18 months at room temperature, according to the USDA. Capers can be stored in the refrigerator for five to seven days after being opened in the package. Because salt slows the growth of bacteria that could cause food poisoning, it is also advised to keep capers in their brine until use. 

Health Benefits 

According to a 2019 study, these tiny flower buds contain phenolic substances including quercetin and kaempferol, with nonpareilles, the earliest stage of flower development, having the highest content. More research is required to establish the efficacy of these chemicals, however they may have antioxidant and anti-diabetic characteristics as well as the potential to treat cancer, heart disease, and cell inflammation. 

Several everyday foods, including vegetables like kale, cabbage, and yams, fruits like oranges and peaches, and herbs like basil, contain phenolic chemicals. 

The health advantages of fresh capers may be reduced if they are brined or cured. According to research, processing can cause capers to lose up to 60% of their phenolic components. In other words, in order to reap the full health advantages of capers, you may also need to eat the liquid that they were packaged in, which is unrealistic for the majority of us given the high sodium content. 

Uses 

Numerous recipes can be enhanced with capers. They can be used whole, straight out of the jar or can, fried for added texture, blended for a sauce, or eaten raw. At your next dinner party, serve it with slices of baguette. Salmon, scallops, and fish stew are seafood dishes that go well with these green buds. Additionally, capers give salads a savoury undertone. Additionally, capers can be used to make spaghetti sauce, drizzled over entrées, and in sauces. You may also combine these green buds with mayonnaise to serve alongside salmon cakes; this flavour combination is unbeatable.