Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What are capers? What do capers look and taste like?

What are capers? What do capers look and taste like?
Capers are the unripened flower buds of Capparis spinosa, a prickly, perennial plant which is native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia. 
After the buds are harvested, they are dried in the sun, then pickled in vinegar, brine, wine or salt. The curing brings out their tangy lemony flavor, much the same as green olives. The size of the buds range from tiny (about the size of a baby petite green pea) up to the size of a small olive.
Larger capers are stronger in flavor and less aromatic.
Capers have long been a favorite in the Mediterranean region. The small, green herb buds lend a piquant sour and salty flavor to salads, dressings, sauces, vegetables and a variety of main dishes.
False Caper Warning ... They are Poisonous ...
If you are planning to preserve capers from your own garden, first be absolutely certain it is a true caper plant. Euphorbia lathyris, common name caper spurge, is a poisonous plant with buds that are often confused as capers. Ingestion of caper spurge buds can cause burning of the mouth, nausea, paleness, irregular pulse, dizziness, delirium and fainting.
Capers are exceptional with seafood and pasta. They also go well with salads, sauces, stews, vegetables especially tomatoes, add on pizza, eggs, poultry and meat. In France, the caper is often used in a mayonnaise-based sauce to serve alongside seafood.
The flavorful plant bud can be added to the prepared tuna, egg or potato along with mayonnaise.
Capers may be added to a fish and rice salad; this may be served on a bed of greens such as a mixture of lettuce, spinach and finely grated cabbage.
Wine, lemon, herb and caper white sauces may be served hot over cooked seafood such as scallops.
Mustard and caper sauce can complement cooked chicken breasts.
Chop larger capers before adding to your dish.
For best flavor, add capers at the end of the cooking process.
Capers packed in brine should be kept submerged in their liquid in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator and use within 9 months.
Capers packed in salt may be kept at room temperature up
to 6 months, but must also be kept airtight.
Some cooks like to pan fry capers to make them extra crispy before adding them to dishes.
One of the most famous uses of the caper is in sauces, which may feature the caper as a star ingredient, or as one among an assortment of ingredients. Caper sauces can be served with fish, meats, roast vegetables, pasta, and a wide variety of other dishes.

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