In Southern Italy we follow the Mediterranean diet and so we cook with herbs which allow us to cut the salt quantity. A key plant ingredient in most our Mediterranean recipes are: capers.
Puglia is the perfect place for those who love capers! We produce tons of capers. Except for sweets, almost all recipes from the traditional cuisine of Puglia, require capers…from fish, to meat, vegetables and pasta. In Puglia, we certainly use more capers than garlic or other herbs.
Yesterday, I went to the market with a specific mission.
I wanted to buy a caper plant in order to try planting and producing capers….once again! I might have tried 20 times already, always with no success!
It’s really difficult to grow capers. They prefer to grow wild only where they decide to grow! They require just the right sun exposure, the most dangerous rock and sea cliff, just the right climate.
I always wondered how they can get to grow so well on top of the most dangerous sea cliffs (see picture above)…and not in my chalky garden with all my care and love!
When you drive along the Adriatic coast from Otranto down to Santa Maria di Leuca you see lots of people with bags climbing the sea cliffs: they are picking capers…and of course the best capers are the smallest ones, the most difficult to pick. May be that’s why they are the most expensive ones!
The smal capers are so tasty compared to the big ones.
The recipe to cure and prepare the fresh capers is the following:
1kg freshly picked capers (the smallest)
1kg sea salt
White wine vinegar (as necessary)
Wash the capers, put them in a jar and mix them with sea salt. Leave them with sea salt for at least 10 days.
We use salt to remove capers’ bitterness. Please consider that it is very important you use “sea” salt since it helps preserving the capers’ flavor and taste.
Salt helps preserving food: therefore capers with salt can last for many months or years.
After the first 10 days, wash them to remove the sea salt, put them in another jar, cover them white wine vinegar, close the jar with the lid and leave them for other 10 days.
After 10 days, repeat this step once more. Remove the vinegar and put them in the jar covering them again with the white wine vinegar.
Leave them with vinegar for other 10.
Now they are ready to be eaten.