If the caper bud is not picked, it flowers and produces a caperberry. Bigger, with the texture of okra, it is more subtle in flavour, lighter in colour (with stripes) and usually has the stem attached. It’s often eaten whole, like an olive, and served as meze.
Pickling Your Own
For a local make-your-own version of capers, use immature nasturtium seeds. Pick the small green seeds once the flowers are finished. Soak in a mix of 50g salt and 2 1/2 cups water for 24 hours. Drain, rinse and drain, then pack into clean jars. Heat enough white wine vinegar or cider vinegar to fill. Seal and set aside for 2-3 weeks.
Process 2 egg yolks, 2 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar in a food processor until pale. With motor running, slowly add 1 cup vegetable oil until thick. Fold in 1 tbsp chives, 2 tbsp parsley, 1/4 tsp tarragon, 1 tbsp gherkins and 2 tbsp rinsed capers – all finely chopped. Season. Keep in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Place 2 tbsp capers, 6 tbsp parsley (1 large bunch), 1 garlic clove and 4 anchovies in a food processor. Whiz until well chopped. Mix in 30g white breadcrumbs and 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. With food processor running, add ½ cup more olive oil in a thin stream until well emulsified. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Use as required.
In a food processor, place 2 tbsp roughly chopped capers, 300g black olives, 3 anchovies, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp brandy or fresh lemon juice, 2 coarsely chopped garlic cloves and 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Process until well blitzed. Store in a glass jar in the fridge, with the surface covered with olive oil, for up to 1 week. Serve at room temperature.
The flower buds of caper plants (capers) are about the size of a corn kernel. Once picked, they are usually pickled in salt, or salt and vinegar. They are commonly used in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Sicilian, Aeolian and southern Italian dishes.