Capering Around – It´s Caper Time

It´s the time of year again when bottoms are in the air as gatherers hunt through exotic blossoms to uncover their harvest among the wild scrambling plant you probably call capers, here they´re known as alcaparrones.

I´d been rather confused about what exactly a caper is, which I´ve now put right. In Spain alcaparrones are the fruit or berry, the flower bud and the plant (Capparis spinosa). It seems that in the UK capers are the tiny pickled flower buds and caper berries are the fruit, which are also eaten pickled.

The low-growing shrub supposedly originated in Asia but is now found all across the Mediterranean countries. The word caper is thought to have come from the Latin capra which means goat and could be because of the overpowering smell of the bud.

Here in Spain it´s the fruit that´s most sort after to be pickled and served as tapas, just as olives are. Both fruit and buds can be pickled in vinegar or brine. The bud is very astringent and cannot be eaten raw but when pickled it has a peppery heat.

Click on any photo to see it enlarged and pick out the buds and the berries.

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