Capers

After we bought our block, I was always on the look out for plants that don’t require much maintenance or water and produce something edible.  High on my list were capers.  I love capers and everything I read about them suggested that they were tough and drought hardy. As is my want, I started researching the topic and this lead me to caperplants.com.

The proprietors have selected a thornless variety (it appears a lot of capers have thorns but not this one) and called it Eureka Caper. They advise that you can order the plants from their website – so I did.  About 6 months later, I received an email from Brian Noone asking me if I was still interested in the caper plants.  I sure was.  The cost of the plants was modest but the cost of transport and quarantine was significant.

The plant is very attractive.  It is a ground cover.  It grows to a metre or so in diameter, and if you don’t pick the capers, has a beautiful white flower with delightful purple stamen.  In winter, it dies right back (the first year, I thought they had died).

In the above photo, capers and caperberries are evident.  Capers are the flower buds.  If they are not picked then the plant will flower and go to seed producing an oblong shaped fruit with many seeds – these are caperberries.  Both capers and caperberries can be pickled.

I pick my capers and caperberries once a fortnight over summer.  This is because this time frame suits me.  I am sure you could do it more often if you wished.  The best thing about capers is the birds haven’t discovered them.

This is how many capers and caperberries I picked last time.  I have four plants.  There were many more caperberries but I didn’t pick them all as I prefer them small and young.  If they are large, I leave them.

When I picked my first lot of capers, I searched the internet for a recipe to pickle them.  I came across one at WikiAnswers.   I like it so much, I haven’t tried any other.  The alternatives are to salt the capers or to pickle them in brine and vinegar.  This recipe is slightly different.

Day 1

  • 2 cups capers
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  1. Wash and drain the capers
  2. Dissolve the salt in the water
  3. Cover the capers with the salted water.  (I put a saucer on the top to stop them floating.)
  4. Leave for 2 days

Day 3

  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Drain the capers
  2. Put the capers into sterilised jars
  3. Put the sugar and vinegar into a pot, dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil
  4. Pour vinegar over capers and seal jar

You may need to adjust the quantity of water and vinegar to ensure your capers are covered.  Just increase the salt and sugar proportionately.  Caperberries can be treated identically.

The bowl made 4 jars of capers …

and one jar of caperberries.

Maybe next year, I will experiment with a different recipe for preserving them but for now, I am sticking with this one.  It is great.  The pickled capers add an unexpected sweetness to a savoury dish.

24 thoughts on “Capers

  1. If you are looking for Caper plants in WA I just purchased 2 from Dawsons in Forrestfield. The one in swanbourne said they do stock them but had none at the moment.
    They were $15 ea.
    Looking forward to trying your recipe in a couple of years time! (they are very small just now) 🙂

  2. Hi,
    I am sorry to read about your dog. my parents dog passed recently and it is really hard on them, and i’m sure you have been attached to yours as well.
    The reason I’m writing is I’m just buying my first home.
    The shrubs are well past their prime, and I’m thinking of replacing them with a variety of plants, and I am hoping to grow some caper plants both for the capers and the flowers.
    Would you be willing to sell me seeds from the ones you have ? if not what were the fees for shipping and quarantine from capers.com ?
    Thanks!
    Steve Drexler

    • Hi Steve. I can’t sell you any seeds, the plants are subject to copyright. I think I paid not much over $100 for six plants which included the quarantine and postage etc. A few people have told me they have bought caper plants in WA in the last year or so. I would ring the better nurseries and see if any have them (They would not be available now, more likely in summer as they are deciduous, but the nursery would be able to tell you if they are going to get any in. Guildford Town Nursery may get them in for you.). Better still, ring SA and ask them who they supply to. regards Glenda

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    • Hi Pam, They are very attractive plants. You would have to check whether they are good for your climate but if it is anything like a Mediterranean climate it should do.

  4. Pingback: In My Kitchen – February 2014 | Passion Fruit Garden

      • Glenda- I have very fond memories of damson jam, made from damsons from my parents’ farm in Victoria. Any ideas for where I can obtain a Damson (plum) tree ? I have tried googling (admittedly not very hard) without success- thought I would come straight to the source- you being the multiple fruit tree owners before I wasted anymore time..Emily

        • Hi Em
          I am not in Perth at the moment but am going back on Friday and I will check out where I bought my trees from. BTW, we are taking our olives to be pressed on Saturday morning. If you have more than you can preserve and would like some pressed you can add them to ours if you like. You would need to bring them to our place by Friday evening.
          G

  5. I’ve been told that true capers, which I assume yours to be, won’t grow here in Oregon – instead, I pick my neighbor’s nasturtium, which make up nicely into capers – howbeit rather large ones. Good things to have around.

    • Doc
      That advice sounds right, – capers like it hot and dry. I would think it would be much too cold your way. I too have pickled nasturtiums. They taste good.
      I must admit, I was a young adult before I realised they weren’t actually capers.

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