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.