Capers have been part of most of our culinary vocabulary for years now, but they're still somewhat of a mystery.
What exactly are they?
The caper bush is a spiny shrub that flourishes wild all over the Mediterranean. The aroma and appearance of the pink blossoms is part of the landscape. Unfortunately for a caper, if the pink blossom appears, then the caper has outlived its usefulness. It’s the bud that’s prized.
The buds are harvested when they're about the size of a kernel of corn, then covered in salt for twenty days. After that, they're aged for a couple months. It's during this time that the floral aroma and flavor we recognize in good capers come out.
Unfortunately, most capers in the U.S. are jarred in a brine, which overwhelms them. Brined capers just taste salty. These are different. Packed in sea salt—which comes off easily when soaked in warm water for five minutes—they retain their nuanced flavors.
Add these big fat juicy capers to pasta sauces. Or sprinkle a handful over freshly broiled fish. Their flavor is remarkable.