Ingredients in the Raw: Capers

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capers-home-chef

“Capers” is one of those culinary terms we usually glide right past on the menu. Gotta be some kind of fancy food, right? So what are these little green beads buddying up to your smoked salmon?

What’s a Caper?

Capers look like a little like tiny, green pumpkins, or zombie popcorn, or fairy eggs (if we’re being totally scientific, that is…).

Actually, capers are a flower, more specifically a flower bud. Capers grow in large bushes in arid climates with rocky soil, and they are extremely resilient, fragrant, and beautiful plants. If the bud is left to bloom and mature into a fruit, it becomes a caper berry, which are roughly the size of an olive.

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Pretty, huh?

The Experience

Capers are pickled in vinegar and salt, making them briny like olives, but with a uniquely piquant flavor.

Life In the Fast Lane

Fancy parties inevitably feature high-end charcuterie platters inundated in fine, little capers and round, shiny caper berries. You may be thinking “these things remind me of olives, so what makes them so much classier?”

Because capers can only be picked by hand, the harvesting process is a slow and steady labor of l’amour. Each individual caper or caper berry on your plate was plucked with intention and care–like hand-woven tapestries or meticulously-beaded gowns, capers forge a personal connection between producer and consumer that is rare in our hyper-modernized society.

Cooking with Capers

Before you add capers to your plate, we recommend draining and – if you’re averse to brininess – rinsing your caper friends before serving.

And much like you only need a few rowdy guests to start a party (I’m looking at you, crazy Uncle Jack), you only need a light garnish of capers to wake up a dish. Pair them with mild bases, like pasta, chicken, or salmon, and add just enough capers to get a little noise going.

You can also find the caper flower in the form of dried flakes, a common seasoning in Mediterranean cuisines.

Start Capering

Raring to cook with capers like, right now? Try ’em out in our fluffy Spanish Vegetable Paella (a major customer favorite).

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…Or our creamy (and low-carb, HOLLA) Herb-Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Caper Gremolata.

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That’s right, folks – we have capers two ways this week. And we can’t wait to hear about your experience with these special culinary gems.