The caper plant is a prolific perennial found throughout the Mediterranean. Caper bushes grow wildly with abundant sunshine and because they can tolerate salty soil they are often found at beaches. Southern Italy has the ideal climate for capers to grow and the most prized come from the small island of Pantelleria. Throughout spring and summer the flower buds are diligently harvested about every ten days in the early morning. If left to mature the giant caper berry develops but the smaller seedless buds have a more delicate flavor.
Photo Credit: The Huntington Garden in Pasadena, CA.
The berries are pickled or salt cured to bring out their flavors which are similar to mustard and rue.
They add a pungent flavor to everyday dishes - here are a few ideas:
1. Add them to pasta and marinara.
2. Top grilled or pan fried fish with a relish of capers, lemon juice, toasted bread crumbs and olive oil.
3. Try this delicious recipe combining pasta with shrimp, dill and capers.
And if that's not enough to get you cooking with capers ... In Roman times capers were used not only in recipes but also medicinally - they were thought to be an aphrodisiac.