A jar of capers is a great way to add a little salty flavor to your dishes.
They’re perfect for salads, pasta dishes, or as a garnish on your favorite meal.
If you’ve never tried capers before, here’s everything you need to know about them.
What are capers?
Capers are pickled flower buds from the plant called Caper Bush.
The flowers have been used in Mediterranean cuisine for thousands of years.
You can find capers in jars at most grocery stores.
Most people use capers in salads, but they also work well as an ingredient in sauces, dips, and even desserts.
What is a jar?
When you go shopping for a jar of capers, you’ll see two types of containers — glass and plastic — and each has its pros and cons.
Glass jars are more expensive than their plastic counterparts, but they’re heavier and tend to hold up better over time.
Glass jars are also easier to clean because they don’t have lids.
Plastic jars, however, can be easily washed with soap and water.
They also tend to stay fresh longer when refrigerated.
How are capers made?
Capers are picked by hand and then cured in salt brine for several weeks.
After this process, they’re packed into jars and sealed.
What is the difference between a jar of capers and a can of capers?
There are actually three different types of capers available today.
You’ll typically find jars of either green (unripe) or black (ripe) capers, both of which are available year-round.
But if you want to get really fancy, you can also purchase preserved caper berries, which are harvested after the main harvest season.
Capers are considered to be one of the five essential ingredients in traditional Italian cooking.
They’re often paired with olives, anchovies, garlic, and lemon juice to create a savory sauce known as a salsa verde.
How long do capers last?
Freshly opened jars of capers will keep in the refrigerator for about six months.
Once open, it’s best to consume them within eight weeks.
Unopened jars of capers can be kept for up to 12 months.
How should capers be stored?
To store capers properly, follow these steps:
- Keep them in a cool, dark place.
- Don’t expose them to extreme temperatures.
- Don’t leave them out in direct sunlight.
- Don’t wash them until needed.
- Don’t reuse old jars.
- Don’t throw them away.
If you plan on keeping your capers in the fridge, make sure to remove them from the jar first before opening the lid.
This will prevent you from accidentally spilling the contents onto other foods in the refrigerator.
What are some uses for capers?
Here are just a few ways that capers can be incorporated into your meals:
- Add them to sandwiches, salads, and soups.
- Use them as a topping for pizza.
- Mix them with olive oil and use them as a dip for bread.
- Combine them with vinegar and garlic and use them as a marinade for chicken or fish.
- Toss them with pasta and vegetables for a delicious side dish.
- Make a caponata salad by combining chopped tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, onions, and capers.
- Sprinkle them on top of roasted meats like lamb chops and pork tenderloins.
- Top sandwiches with slices of ham, roast beef, or turkey topped with a dollop of mayonnaise and a sprinkle of capers.
- Add them to your favorite seafood cocktail for extra flavor.
- Serve them alongside a bowl of soup.
What are some recipes that include capers?
Capers are commonly found in many Mediterranean dishes.
Here are a few examples:
- Salad of mixed greens with crumbled feta cheese, sliced black olives, and capers
- Pasta with shrimp, scallops, and mussels tossed with olive oil, lemon, parsley, garlic, and capers
- Roasted red pepper stuffed with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers
- Pizza with ground meat, onion, tomato, and capers
- Chicken breast sautéed with mushrooms, onions, and capers
- Baked fish fillets topped with capers, lemon, and herbs
- Pork tenderloin with a spicy mustard glaze and capers
- Risotto with peas, wild rice, and pancetta
Are there any health benefits to eating capers?
Many studies suggest that capsicum, the chemical compound that gives red bell peppers their fiery taste, offers numerous health benefits.
Capsaicin, which is what makes peppers hot, has shown promise in preventing cancer, lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving heart health.
One study conducted by researchers at Harvard University suggests that consuming up to 1.6 milligrams of capsaicin daily could reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.
Another study published in the journal Nutrition Research suggests that capsaicin can help lower cholesterol levels and protect against cardiovascular disease.
Where can I buy a jar of capers?
The easiest place to buy a jar of capers is at your local grocery store.
Just look for jars of capers sitting next to olives or anchovies.
You might also see them near the condiment aisle.