There are always some ingredients that end up sitting in the back of your fridge. That really expensive mustard you swore you would use, or a half-eaten jar of olives that date back to your last salad kick. One of those oft-forgotten and much underused ingredients are capers, the small bud with unique earthy flavours that you should be making a part of your daily diet.

Capers are the bloom of the Capparis Spinosa, a shrub-like bush native to the Mediterranean region and parts of Asia. It thrives in hot, arid climates and as such, they can also be found in the Middle East, Southern Europe and North Africa, with Italy, Morocco and Spain producing the most capers worldwide. Capers are far from a new or trendy ingredient. Their use actually dates back as far as 2000 B.C where they were mentioned in the Epic of Gilgamesh. 

After being harvested from the bush, they’re sun-dried and can be preserved in a few different ways such as pickling them in a brine of vinegar, salt, or wine, or by curing them in salt. Depending on how they’re preserved the flavours can range in intensity but they all have an acidic flavour that can help elevate almost any dish. 

Capers are most prevalent in Mediterranean dishes like chicken piccata and Niçoise salad. They can also be used as a garnish for sandwiches or bagels for a fresh edge to every bite. They really shine when paired with dairy or fat why the acidity and saltiness can really be effective. When using them to cook, be sure to rinse off the salty exterior, or adjust your salt usage accordingly to match their natural flavour. They can also be fried off and used as a crunchy addition to your meal.

Also Read: Mediterranean Way Of Life: What Can We Learn From It

Mediterranean diets are considered one of the healthiest in the world and capers could be a huge contributor to that. With crucial levels of vitamin K, calcium and magnesium that can regulate blood pressure levels. They’re also high in antioxidants which help counteract free radicals and prevent cell damage. 

So if you’re looking for a low-cal, high-fibre condiment that can add to every meal, look no further than the humble caper.

Ingredients: 

    Jarred capers

    Vegetable or olive oil to fill small saucepan 1/8 inch deep

Method: 

1.    Pour oil into a small saucepan to 1/8 inch deep.

2.    Heat oil until shimmering.

3.    If brined, drain capers and dry on paper towels or kitchen towel.

4.    Add capers to the pan and fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

5.    Carefully remove capers from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.

6.    Store in an airtight jar and use as needed.