Most people are only familiar with capote capers, the tangy, salty, tiny green flowers from the caper bush. But, if you have come across nonpareil capers, that may cause even more confusion.
Capers are small, rounded, dark-green condiments usually pickled in salty brine. Like green olives, the pickling process results in the flowers acquiring a tangy, spicy, and lemonary flavor which pops in the mouth.
The capers plant has many types of flowers, depending on their size. Two popular ones are capote and nonpareil capers. These two flower buds belong to the same plant. However, they are not the same. Stay tuned to learn more about capote and nonpareil capers.
Capote vs Nonpareil Capers
Both capote and nonpareil capers belong to the same plant. The main difference between the two is in their size. Capote capers are larger than nonpareil carpers. Nonpareil capers are below 7mm, while capote capers measure between 9-11 mm.
The other difference is in their tastes. Capote capers have an intense flavor and are more acidic, while nonpareil capers have a firmer texture and a more subdued or milder flavor.
What Are Capers
Capers are flower buds of a shrub called caper bush or flinders rose plant – Capparis spinosa. The flowers are edible and used a lot in culinary. The caper bush is found in Spain, Italy, Morroco, and Turkey. Being a perennial plant, the caper bush can be grown from the seeds of ripe fruits. Cultivating this plant is not an easy hassle. That’s why many people don’t bother cultivating it and usually obtain capers from the wild.
The flower buds of this plant are small, round, and dark green when harvested. They are often harvested before the flower blooms. In case the flower buds are not picked and left to bloom and mature, the green flower buds change to pink-white flowers. These pink-white flowers don’t take long and wither shortly, leaving stamen. The stamen then develops into fruits called caper berries.
The caper berries can be used on their own as ingredients in different recipes.
What Are Capote Capers
Capote capers are flower buds obtained from the caper bush plant. These flowers are a staple and crucial Mediterranean ingredient. They are also bright with a pleasantly sour flavor. Capote capers are chick-pea sized, about 7mm to 11 mm.
Capote capers are picked when the buds are closer to blooming. For this reason, they are larger than nonpareil capers by at least 2mm. This also makes them have a more intense flavor.
Capote capers enhance the flavor and aroma of your dish, making it have salty and tangy goodness.
What Are Nonpareil Capers
Like capote capers, nonpareil capers are flower buds of the caper bush plant. They are also the most minor type of capers, with a length of not more than 7 mm. The smallest flower buds of the caper bush plant are harvested early in the morning before the flower blooms. They are then packaged, labeled as nonpareil capers, and sold in grocery stores for public consumption.
When eaten, nonpareil capers have a mild flavor and texture. The word nonpareil originates from French and means “having no equal.” This indicates there are no capers as nonpareil capers. And that nonpareil capers are the most loved capers. They are best known for their excellent flavor and texture.
Unlike capote capers, nonpareil capers have a firmer texture and a more subdued taste.
What Are Capers Used For
Capers are primarily used in culinary. You can use them as an ingredient to give your dish a fancy taste. When used to prepare a dish, capers retain their taste without overpowering the meal’s flavor.
As mentioned, capers are a staple of Mediterranean cuisine, so getting used to preparing Mediterranean dishes is essential. If you’ve never used capers in culinary before, you’ll need to try your hands at Classic Mediterranean dishes first. Once you know how to make Mediterranean dishes, it would be easy to experiment with capers in other dishes.
Capers are mostly toasted with greens, used as dips, or to prepare Caesar salad. You can also use them in recipes that call for anchovies as a substitute.
Capers are best when paired with fish. They also pair well with chicken, roast lamb, and pork. And this is the reason why they’re among the main ingredients of traditional tartar sauce.
Besides meats, you use capers to add acidity to creamy, buttery sauces or garlic butter, often cooked with pasta, making a mouthwatering meal.
Should You Cook Capers
Cooking capers is not necessary. So, depending on your recipe, you can choose to cook or not. If your recipe requires uncooked capers, simply add them straight from the container for a rich flavor. And if you need cooked capers, heat them according to the recipe’s instructions.
Note that when you want to cook the capers, it’s best to add them towards the end of your cooking. The same way you do with fresh herbs like cilantro. Doing so helps maintain its acidic taste and snappy texture, bringing a fantastic touch to many dishes.
When cooking with raw capers, remember that they taste bitter and are pretty unpalatable. And the best raw capers to use are those pickled in brine or vinegar. These have a solid sour, herbal, salty, and slightly medicinal flavor.
Capers Nutrition Information
Capers are a nutritious condiment rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and E. The antioxidants work against oxidative stress, reducing your risk of certain cancers.
Capers are an excellent source of dietary fiber. One ounce of capers provides one gram of fiber. And since capers are not eaten as a meal but used as a condiment, they are a great way of increasing your fiber intake without increasing your daily calories.
Lastly, capers are rich in sodium and can help you meet your daily sodium needs. A tablespoon of capers offers 16% of your daily recommended sodium needs.
Capers are edible flower buds of the caper bush plant. Capote capers are larger with a tangy, more acidic, and intense flavor. Nonpareil capers are smaller with a firmer texture and a milder flavor.