Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"They Actually Eat That:" Capers.

Capers are one of those plants that occasionally turn up on the menus of medium-high quality restaurants. It's one of those plants that a lot of people are probably just barely aware of. Still, if it turns up on a menu, one can't help but wonder if there is a Scooby Snack involved.

And they would taste awful in cupcakes.

Caper, the plant (Capparis spinosa), is native to the drier areas of Asia and the Mediterranean. Capers are related to mustard and dill, for those of you who aren't culinary experts. You can expect a certain sour-salty taste from them if they happen to be in something. The buds, flowers, and fruit of the caper are all edible, with the smaller buds supposedly having the best taste. 

By no means are capers a rare plant. In fact, they're so tolerant of things like poor soil salinity and drought that they can be grown almost anywhere. They can be propagated by cutting and are largely resistant to insects. Wild capers are on a vine while cultivars are more shrublike, but neither is really hard to find. In other words, we're pretty much looking at an edible weed.

The ingestion of capers goes beyond gourmet food. They can also be used as a new age remedy for intestinal issues, menstrual symptoms, liver problems, worms, and urinary disorders. Capers can help anything that involves detoxification. Just don't go around saying that they can cure snakebite or something; I cannot be held responsible for any that die because a seasoning herb didn't stop the venom.

So don't worry if you see capers on a menu. It's not as fancy as it sounds and is definitely not linked to mysteries. It might make sauces go down easier if you do not consider it a weed, though.

1 comment:

  1. Know your weeds! This from

    If you are planning to preserve capers from your own garden, first be absolutely certain it is a true caper plant. Euphorbia lathyris, common name caper spurge, is a poisonous plant with buds that are often confused as capers.

    Ingestion of caper spurge buds can cause burning of the mouth, nausea, paleness, irregular pulse, dizziness, delirium and fainting. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service for assistance in identifying your plant.