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.
- 2 cups capers
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup salt
- Wash and drain the capers
- Dissolve the salt in the water
- Cover the capers with the salted water. (I put a saucer on the top to stop them floating.)
- Leave for 2 days
- 1 cup vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
- Drain the capers
- Put the capers into sterilised jars
- Put the sugar and vinegar into a pot, dissolve the sugar then bring to the boil
- 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.
Living the dream indeed ! My two favorite flowers of edible and ornamental plants are capers and passion fruit – amazing how similar the flowers look, yet how different the plants are ! For May Day I finally purchased my first seed pack of capers, in Greece, thus native / naturalized (in my quick online search, I read somewhere that capers could have been introduced to Europe in the 1540s by the Spaniards and loved the climate, Now capers have been naturalized, further food for thought, i.e. Research !! For passiflora, yes, the Spaniards brought back and still holds the name, after the Passion of Christ as in the flower itself they could see the religious symbols of the Passion, that plant prefers more tropical climate though and upon my search, low and behold! I see passion fruit garden, CAPERS !!! I think, this is for me !!!! ) So happy to have discovered like-minded people !
Thank you for sharing your insight on capers, low- maintenance beautiful edibles that help the ecosystem and add taste to human taste buds sounds great ! Thank you so much !
Quick question about the caper plant : bush or vine ? I m thinking to let some parts stay ground cover, and should I let it trellis up some ?
also then how to save seeds and propagate ?
After I get the plant(s) started I ll come back with more recipe questions haha ! Tho you ve made it pretty straightforward, and it s the entire journey that counts ! pickling something you have started from seed, must be an amazing rewarding feeling that I m looking forward to experiencing !
I loved visiting your site ! Best of wishes and keep living the dream !!
HI Chloe, welcome to my site. The plants grow in one to two metres clumps. They will not grow up a trellis. They will fall over a wall or embankment though. They would look perfect draping over a retaining wall. If you leave the berries on the plant, they will dry out and burst open. Collect the seeds and next spring plant them. You are sure to get lots of little caper plants. I wish you luck.
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) 🙂
Hi Leah, thanks, it is worth knowing. Mine are self seeding now so I probably won’t need to buy any more.
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 ?
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
hi, i was just wondering how long to leave the caperberries before eating them?
Hi Suzanne, I would leave them at least a month. Thanks for stopping by.
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can I buy some seeds please . I love caper berries and like to grow them
Hi Mohammad. This is where I bought my plants from. http://caperplants.com/ I suggest you contact them.
I enjoyed your voyage of discovery about growing and pickling capers. I’d love to grow them here (Brisbane) but I’m afriad their feet would get too wet!
Yeah sorry Fiona, they like it hot and dry.
Thanks for sharing. I want a caper plant too now!
Hi Emma, there may be a glut of capers next summer 🙂
I’m totally loving this Glenda!
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.
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Thank you so much for the jar of your capers. We are thoroughly enjoying them Glenda.
No problems Faye and Anna. What do you think of the sweetness?
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
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.
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.
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.
Never thought to plant capers before, the flowers are beautiful ….
Yes, it is a real bonus when you get a pretty flower and something to eat:)