In Southern Italy where we follow the Mediterranean diet we cook with herbs which allows 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. Apart from 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 and try producing capers….once more! 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 right soil or rock, the perfect 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 will see lots of people with bags climbing the sea cliffs: they will be 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!
In the next months, I will keep you posted about what happens to this lovely caper plant!
Just to make sure I and Marika had enough capers for the summer, I also bought some freshly picked capers.
Of course, I and Marika like buying the smallest capers: they are so tasty compared to the big ones.
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The recipe to 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.
As you may already know, salt preserves food: therefore capers with salt can last for many months or years.
After the first 10 days, put them in another jar, add other sea salt and leave them for other 10 days.
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Now they are ready to be eaten. Remove the sea salt, put them in a jar, cover them with white wine vinegar and close the jar with the lid.
Leave them with vinegar for about 5 days. After 5 days, remove the vinegar and cover them with other white wine vinegar. After 10 days, repeat this step once more. Leave them with vinegar for other 15 days, at least, before using them.