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Glossary

Capers

Capers

Pronounce it: kay-per

Capers are the small flower buds of the Capparis shrub, which grows in the Mediterranean. As they're picked by hand they're fairly pricey but they're a versatile store cupboard ingredient, and are good for adding a distinctive sour/salty flavour to many savoury dishes.

Availability

All year round.

Choose the best

Really small, peppercorn-sized capers, called 'nonpareille' are available, but the slightly larger ones are more common. Capers are preserved a number of ways - either in salt, wine vinegar, brine or olive oil. The brine-pickled type has the sharpest flavour and is slightly less versatile than the salted type. For a more sophisticated caper flavour, try the elegantly stemmed caper berries, which are a little milder and sweeter than the standard type.

Prepare it

Rinse well and pat dry.

Store it

In a cool, dark place. Once opened, store in the fridge and make sure they keep below the level of whatever they were pickled in, otherwise they'll start to smell.

Cook it

Combine with white wine vinegar, mustard, honey and lemon juice and mix with grated celeriac to make remoulade; mix with melted butter, lemon juice and zest to make a sauce for grilled salmon; add to pizza toppings; combine with mayonnaise, olive oil, anchovies, tuna and lemon juice for an Italian tonnato sauce to serve with rosé veal.

Alternatives

Try gherkin.

Skills & know how

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