Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

caper the pickled olive green flower bud of Capparis spinosa, a Mediterranean shrub. This is cultivated for the buds in France, where Roquevaire in Provence is the ‘caper capital’, and also in Spain and Italy. The plant, which is sprawling and has tenacious spines (hence one Turkish vernacular name meaning ‘cat’s claw’), bears small fruits which may also be pickled.

Fresh capers are not used. The characteristic and slightly bitter flavour which is the virtue of capers, and which is mainly due to the formation of capric acid, is only developed by pickling.