Have you ever heard of caperberries and wondered, “What are caperberries?” You’re not alone – many people have never heard of them!
Caperberries are a unique and flavorful ingredient that can add delightful zest to your dishes. What are caperberries exactly, and how do they taste?
Keep reading to find out all about these special culinary treats.
What Are Caperberries?
Caperberries are the fruits of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa), a plant native to the Mediterranean region. They are larger than capers, which are actually the unopened flower buds of the same plant.
In addition to their unique flavor, caperberries also offer several health benefits. They are low in calories, high in antioxidants, and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Where Do Caper Berries Come From?
Caperberries are fruits of the caper plant, specifically Capparis spinosa, that is native to the Mediterranean region, particularly Southern Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa.
The caper bushes are hardy perennials that have adapted to the climatic conditions of these regions. They are also found in parts of Asia, hinting at a possible origin there.
The berries themselves are harvested after the caper buds have bloomed and turned into fruit, offering a unique culinary delight in many Mediterranean cuisines.
Are Capers and Caper Berries the Same?
While capers and caper berries both come from the same plant, known as the caper shrub or caper bush, they are not the same.
The key difference lies in their stage of development and their size. Capers, also known as brined capers, are the unopened buds of the caper bush. They are typically harvested when they are small, around the size of a kernel of corn.
On the other hand, caper berries are the fruits that develop after the flowers of the caper bush have bloomed and been pollinated. They are considerably larger than capers, similar in size to an olive or small grape.
So, while they originate from the same plant and share a similar flavor profile, capers and caper berries are distinct in their own right.
What Does a Caper Berry Look Like?
Caper berries are fruit of the caper plant and bear a striking resemblance to green olives. They are oblong in shape, green-gray in color, and feature a long stem.
Unlike the tiny buds known as capers, caper berries are considerably larger, being similar in size to an olive or small grape. Inside, they are filled with numerous small seeds that contribute to their unique texture.
What Do Caper Berries Taste Like?
Brined caper berries have a unique flavor profile that is both tangy and briny. They are reminiscent of green olives, but with a more pronounced tartness that makes them a popular ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine.
The tangy caper berries are less intense in flavor compared to the unopened buds known as brined capers, but they still offer a distinctive taste that can elevate many dishes. The briny flavor of caper berries is a result of the pickling process, which infuses them with a delightful tanginess.
Despite their larger size, the taste of brined caper berries is somewhat milder compared to the sharp, piquant flavor of their smaller counterparts, the brined capers.
Do Caper Berries Have Seeds?
Yes, caper berries indeed have seeds. They contain tiny seeds, about the size of mustard seeds, that add a delightful crunch to the overall texture of the berry.
These seeds are packed with a high concentration of flavor, making them a favorite among home cooks. The seeds not only contribute to the distinct taste of caper berries but also enhance their culinary appeal with an added crunch.
What Are Caper Berries Special For?
Caper berries are a special ingredient known for their versatility in culinary applications, particularly in savory dishes. These tangy, briny fruits can be used much like green olives, adding a burst of flavor and a unique texture to a variety of recipes.
For example, caper berries can be tossed into a Greek salad, where they complement the feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, and olive oil with their distinct tartness. They are also excellent when paired with smoked salmon, as their tanginess cuts through the richness of the fish, enhancing its delicate flavor.
Are Caperberries Healthy?
Caperberries, often pickled in brine, are indeed healthy. They retain their stem intacts and sometimes even a few caper leaves, which add to the visual appeal and flavor profile.
However, due to the brining process, they contain excess salt, which should be considered if you’re monitoring your sodium intake.
These sour berries are more than just two ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine – their health benefits range from being rich in antioxidants to supporting weight loss and promoting healthy blood sugar level.
Remember to rinse them before use to remove some of the excess salt.
How Are Caper Berries Grown?
Growing caper berries requires understanding of the caper bush’s specific needs and careful attention to the timing of the harvest. Adding it to your garden can be a fulfilling experience, offering both ornamental and culinary benefits.
- Plant Needs: Caper plants require a sunny position with at least 6 hours of sun per day in summer. They require a minimum temperature of 10 degrees Celsius and grow slowly, reaching maturity in about two years.
- Bud and Berry Production: The caper bush produces flower buds which, if harvested at the right time, become the capers we use in our kitchens. These small and delicate buds need to be harvested individually by hand each morning as they reach the proper size. If these flowers aren’t picked, they blossom and eventually turn into larger caper berries.
- Propagation: Growing a caper bush from cuttings is a common propagation method. Collect growing caper berry cuttings in the early spring months, using basal portions with six to ten buds for the best results.
Where Can You Find Caper Berries?
If you’re on the hunt for caper berries, you’re in luck! Several grocery and online stores carry various brands of this Mediterranean delicacy.
Whole Foods Market offers Organic Caper Berries, while Walmart and Amazon list Roland Fine Caper Berries.
Additionally, you can find Divina Caper Berries at HEB and Alessi Caper Berries in Balsamic Vinegar at Alessi Foods.
For those seeking nonpareil capers, these are typically the smallest size of caper berries, renowned for their superior flavor and texture.
How Can Caper Berries Be Eaten?
Caper berries are typically sold pickled, adding a tangy flavor and unique texture to various dishes. Here’s how you can enjoy these delightful berries.
Enjoy as Is
Use in Salads
Add some zing to your salads by tossing in a handful of pickled caper berries. They pair well with fresh greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta cheese. Their briny taste adds depth and complexity to simple salad recipes.
Incorporate Into Pasta Dishes
Caper berries can work wonders in pasta dishes too. Try adding them to spaghetti aglio e olio or puttanesca sauce. The salty, briny flavor complements the garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes beautifully.
Garnish for Fish and Meat Dishes
Caper berries make a wonderful garnish for fish, chicken and other meat dishes. They can be used in tartar sauce, served alongside smoked salmon, or used as a topping for grilled steak.
Use in Cocktails
Believe it or not, pickled caper berries can also be used in cocktails. They make an excellent and unexpected garnish for martinis and bloody marys, adding a savory twist to these classic drinks.
Caper berries are a versatile ingredient that can elevate a wide range of dishes. Whether they’re sold pickled in jars or fresh from the market, their distinct flavor and texture can bring a Mediterranean twist to your cooking.
So, What Are Caperberries?
In conclusion, caperberries are the mature fruits of the caper bush, known scientifically as Capparis spinosa. They are larger than caper buds and contain numerous seeds.
Typically pickled or brined to bring out their unique flavor, caperberries have a tangy, olive-like taste with a hint of lemon. They are used in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in Italian, Greek, and Spanish dishes.
So, when you ask “What are caperberries?”, think of them as small, flavorful bombs that can elevate your culinary creations to new heights.