You cook with capers, but do you know what they really are?
There are a few ingredients that can really add life to a dish: lemon, vinegar, anchovies, olives – and capers. David Rosengarten visited Pantelleria, Italy, or what he calls “caper heaven”. He explains the difference between capers and berries, and debunks a myth about capers food that won’t go away.Sally Swift: What is a caper? Read: where do capers growDavid Rosengarten: There is a species of plant called capparis spinosa. When the plant produces a bud – this begins every year in the spring – this bud will be a flower. However, if you pick the bud before it becomes a flower, it’s a caper. In fact, we should rightly call it capers; the whole plant is a caper plant and it has many different parts, but what we all call a caper plant is a caper bud.SS: What about the larger things we see called capers?DR: If you leave the bud on the plant, it will bloom in a few weeks and have a flower – a beautiful purple-white flower. If you let the flower fall, it will be replaced a little later in the season with fruit. That fruit is called a caper, which looks like an olive; it is elongated. It’s much larger than a caper bud, and it has a similar taste and it’s treated the same way. It doesn’t have a strong taste like capers but has a very similar taste and is very tasty. In Greece, they also liked to use the leaves of the capers.SS: Where is the best place to plant capers?DR: There are capers grown throughout the Mediterranean. Some are grown in Asia and in Australia. Most people in the capers world will tell you the best capers come from a small island called Pantelleria off the coast of Sicily, Italy. It is actually part of Sicily, but geographically it is located between Sicily and Africa. It’s actually a bit closer to Tunisia than the main part of Sicily. But that’s it. It’s capers’ paradise. Read more: Where can my teenage girl watch If you go to a gourmet grocery store, you’ll find capers from Pantelleria.SS: Are they raised there or are they wild?DR: You can take care of plants. I saw a capers farm where everything was grown, but I also saw capers growing wild all over the island.SS: Now the big question: Here we can find capers cured in those little bottles with vinegar and also salt. What’s the difference?DR: If you taste an olive without any cure, it’s horrible; it’s bittersweet. Same goes for capers: It takes some sort of cure before you can really enjoy it, and that has to do with salt. There are a few ways you can do it. You can mix capers with fine, coarse salt; you can mix them with salt and water, brine; or you can mix them with salt and vinegar or salt, water and vinegar. But there are basically two ways to do it: the liquid way or the dry way with salt.SS: What’s your hobby?DR: Definitely the dry way. In Pantelleria, all the good places dry them with just salt. It is more complicated and more expensive. I went into some of the storage rooms where they had big bushels of capers sitting there with salt. They have to go in there every day and mix them up because they have to make sure the salt is evenly distributed, but if you put them in a large bucket of liquid you don’t have to worry about that. It’s easier and faster, but I think they’ll be washed out a bit.SS: What about the size? Should we go for the smaller ones or the bigger ones?DR: On the Internet, most people say, “Buy the smaller ones. They’re better.” But it’s one of those food myths that won’t go away.The only reason you hear it is because that’s what everyone says all the time, and no one really takes the trouble to. actually researched it, everyone I talked to – from producers, chefs to local food writers – said the large variety tasted much better. three sizes: small, medium and large. The downside of the larger plants is that they are close to opening and becoming flowers. They are not completely structured, not completely sturdy, inside they have a flower. waiting to be released, but they have grown to the most beautiful flavor.SS: I like the idea of a flower ready to burst from those larger flowers. It is very romantic. How do they use capers on that island?DR: Present everywhere. They are in almost every dish you are served. Their caponata definitely has a lot of capers in it, they are put in sauces and sprinkled in salads. They make something pretty special there. On the west coast of the main island of Sicily, there is a place called Trapani. In Trapani, they make a local form of pesto. They call it pesto, but it’s nothing like our pesto. Our pesto was soft and green, but theirs was quite red because they were made with tomatoes. They also pound almonds in it and of course they add capers to it.Read more: Pokemon Sun & Moon: How to catch Necrozma | Legendary Guide
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