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What are Caperberries? How to Make Delicious Caperberry Relish

Written by the YesChef staff

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Nancy Silverton Teaches her California Cuisine
Nancy Silverton Teaches her California Cuisine
Nancy Silverton
Teaches her California Cuisine
When shopping in the pickled and jarred goods aisle at your local grocery store, you probably noticed little green capers. But what about the larger caperberry with a curious shape? The intriguing briny green pod not only looks interesting, it tastes great too. That’s why chef Nancy Silverton loves using them in her cooking – but what are caperberries exactly and how do you use caperberries in the kitchen?
Nancy Silverton
Teaches her California Cuisine

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What is a caperberry?

Caperberries are the fruit of the caper bush that grow in Mediterranean climates like Spain, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, and Greece. The caperberry is usually pickled in a brine solution to give it that piquant flavor most people associate with capers. A little more tart than most other pickles or brined ingredients, caperberries can be used in numerous recipes, including salads, pastas, sandwiches, and condiments.

Caperberries vs capers

What’s the difference between caperberries and capers, might you ask? While caperberries and capers come from the same bush, they’re not actually the same thing. Caperberries are the unopened mature flower buds of the caper bush. The fruit resembles a miniature fig, and is similar in size to an olive or a grape. Capers, on the other hand, are much smaller in size because they are harvested when they are unopened little flower buds, much earlier than when caperberries are harvested. Both, however, are liquid-brined and preserved for later use in a sauce, pastas, dressings, and more.

What do caperberries taste like and how do you prepare them for cooking?

Caperberries taste salty and sour with a slight crunchy texture due to the edible seeds inside. They are regularly used as a garnish or can be prepared in salads, sandwiches, sauces, and condiments, like chef Nancy Silverton’s caperberry relish (see recipe below). Regular capers tend to be saltier, packing a more powerful flavor. If you buy salt-preserved capers, it’s best to first soak them in cold water to get rid of the excess salt. For brined capers and caperberries, just place them in a colander and run under cold water before using. As chef Nancy Silverton explains in her class, capers don’t necessarily need to be chopped because they are already small, but the bigger caperberry can be thinly sliced, chopped, or cut into halves.

How to shop for caperberries and capers?

Look for capers in the pickles section, next to cornichons and cocktail onions. You’ll find either salt-packed or vinegar-pickled capers, and if you go to a good deli or a specialty store, you’ll also find caperberries in a jar. Alternatively, capers and caperberries are sold at specialty grocers online.

Chef Nancy Silverton prefers the salt-preserved version of capers, and the vinegar-pickled caperberries, which tend to come from Spain. Jars of capers and caperberries can be stored in the pantry, and relocated to the fridge once opened, where they can usually be kept for one year.

How to cook with capers and caperberries?

Both capers and caperberries are great in relish and sauce. It’s an essential ingredient in chef Nancy Silverton’s cooking, as seen in her Quattro Condimenti class, where she prepares a delectable spread that emulates the legendary mozzarella bar at Osteria Mozza. Here, she serves this dish alongside condiments like a salsa romesco, basil pesto, black olive tapenade, and fett’unta, grilled bread smothered in olive oil. Capers and caperberries also pair wonderfully with a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel, punch-up a buttery lemon sauce for grilled fish, and can even upgrade the classic martini. We also love the addition of tart and crunchy caperberry slices inside potato salads, creamy pastas, roasted chicken, and on pizzas.
Serves: 5
|
Hands-on: 10 min
|
Total: 25 min

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
    finely sliced

  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar

  • 1/2 cup caperberries
    drained and sliced

  • 2 tablespoons capers
    (preferably salt-packed), soaked in water for 15 minutes if salt-packed, rinsed, drained, and chopped

  • Black pepper
    freshly ground

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/4 small red onion
    minced

  • 2 small garlic cloves
    grated on a Microplane or minced (about 1 teaspoon)

GEAR

  • Microplane
  • Knife
  • Strainer
  • Mixing bowl

Recipe

  • In a mixing bowl, add caperberries, capers, red onion, extra-virgin olive oil, champagne vinegar, and season with black pepper.
  • Add garlic, stir to combine and stir in sliced Italian parsley right before serving.
Nancy Silverton Teaches her California Cuisine
Nancy Silverton Teaches her California Cuisine

Nancy Silverton

James Beard Award-winning chef, best-selling cookbook author, and the restaurateur behind Michelin-starred Mozza, Nancy Silverton takes viewers on a journey from her home in Panicale, Italy, to her home in Los Angeles. Viewers learn a range of Nancy’s renowned dishes, including her signature Caesar Salad, Chi Spacca Pepper Steak, 10+ vegetarian dishes, Mom’s Apple Pie, and more.

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