Capers are edible flower buds used in cooking as a seasoning or garnish. Their flavor comes from mustard oil that is released from the bud. They were traditionally used in Mediterranean cuisine and traditional medicine, but have since become popular in other regions as well. The buds are usually pickled with salt and/or vinegar and stored for later use. They can be used in many different dishes such as pizza, pasta, salad, tartar sauce, fish, meat and much more.
Where do capers come from?
These edible flower buds come from the caper bush, scientific name Capparis spinosa, and other similar species. The fruit, known as a caper berry and prepared in a similar way to the buds, and leaves of this plant can also be eaten. Caper bushes are usually planted from seed or cuttings and can produce buds and fruit for more than 30 years!
Where did the caper bush originate from?
Scientists are unsure about where the caper bush originally comes from. Although it has long been used in the Mediterranean region they are unsure whether it originated there or if it was brought to the region from a more tropical area.
Where are they grown today?
A semiarid climate is required for growing the caper bush. It is a drought tolerant plant and prefers temperatures over 14 °C (57 °F). This means that the Mediterranean remains one of the best places to grow this plant. They are also grown in parts of the Middle East, Asia and northern Africa. Smaller crops are also grown outside these regions.
Did you know?
The caper bush is not only capable of resisting drought, but it is also resistant to high levels of radiation and can grow in very poor soil!