If it may have seemed like a challenge finding capers in a grocery store, do not worry as this guide gives you pointers about where you can get them.
Capers are tangy ingredients commonly used in Mediterranean dishes. The work of capers is to add more zestiness to your pasta sauce, fish dish, or other recipes.
Now that you know more about capers, it is time to find them at your local grocery store. The location of capers in a grocery store often depends on the type of store. In most cases, capers will be in the condiment aisle near olives and pickles.
You could still find capers in the International aisle where you can find Italian products too. It is still advisable to check out the aisle containing pasta noodles too. This is because they can be used together.
If your local grocery store lacks capers; another option would be checking out capers from online stores. Amazon is a great place to start looking for capers from different suppliers.
Amazing Health Benefits of Capers
Capers are a top choice for most people who may be looking to add more flavor to their recipes. Other than spicing your food, what else can capers do for you? Below are some of the health benefits you can expect after eating capers.
The free radicals can easily build up in your body leading to the development of certain conditions. Luckily, capers will have antioxidants. These antioxidants work by breaking down the free radicals and boosting your immune system. At this point, you can handle the free radicals better and still have the best health.
The antioxidants effects as a result of eating capers have been proven useful in the brain, liver, and heart of mice. As such, you can be sure capers can be good for your health.
Inflammation is no fun for anyone. You might end up having trouble walking or doing other basic things simply because you have inflammation. So, it is best to look for ways of dealing with the problem. That is where capers come in handy. They have anti-inflammatory properties important for helping you get better in case you have been experiencing inflammation lately.
A good example was proven by Chinese medicine made using Caper extract. The medicine contains two inflammatory proteins including TNF Alpha and IL-1beta. These two are crucial for the proper functioning of the body.
A few studies also show that caper fruit extracts are associated with killing of stomach and liver cancer cells. They did this by reducing the protein that would help in the survival of cancer cells. Also, they activated two cell death proteins to help deal with the cancer cells.
Capers also have essential oils, flavonoids, and chlorogenic acid that prevent the occurrence of cancer cells.
As much as this does not mean you use capers for cancer treatment, they can be instrumental in reducing the chances of developing cancer cells in the first place.
- Capers for diabetes
Capers are also associated with lower blood sugar levels. It is why diabetics in countries such as Morocco, Jordan, and Israel eat capers as a way of keeping their blood sugar low.
There is still a need for more clinical trials, but those that have been conducted so far have positive news on the use of capers for diabetes.
- Skin protection
This is another interesting benefit of using capers more often. In this case, you will use caper extract for skin protection. It means you get to apply it directly to your skin to prevent possible skin inflammation as a result of UV light.
It is for this reason; several cosmetic companies are often using capers in their topical products. The products are also marketed as anti-aging and anti-inflammatory. It is easy to see how many people would be interested in using such products.
From the various health benefits mentioned above, it is possible to find caper as a great option to use for your health. Just make sure not to overeat them. This is because capers still have high sodium content. They would not be great for people with conditions such as water retention and osteoporosis.
Caper vs. Caper Berries. What is the Difference?
Capers are the tiny edible buds from a caper plant. When the buds are left unharvested for long, they end up flowering. They will produce pink and white flowers, which are then followed by the caper berries. That is how you end up with caper berries.
As you can see, the difference is mostly based on the stage of the plant. One comes after the other.
The best part is that both the caper buds and caper berries are edible. They can also be pickled in vinegar, brine, or salt.
These two almost have no calories. Eating a tablespoon of either capers or berries will give you about two calories with zero fat. They can have traces of carbohydrates, but this is mostly because they are preserved in salt or brine. This preservation method means that capers will tend to be high in sodium.
If capers interest you, go ahead and get some for your recipes. There are many caper recipes online you can follow. You can be sure to have something different to make you enjoy the new found recipe ingredient.
How Long Can Capers Last?
How long capers can last largely depends on their preparation and storage. If you buy some from a grocery store, check the best by date. This will allow you to appropriately use the capers before they go bad.
Sometimes the label indicating the best by date might miss, so how long do you have after opening the jar? Well, a year should be good enough for most capers. Just make sure you store them in an airtight jar.
One of the reasons capers can last long is because of the preservation method. They are usually brined in salt or vinegar. Pickling in vinegar is often preferred to bring out their flavors since they are bitter naturally.
Vinegar is a great preserver as it will prevent the growth of bacteria in capers and still improve its overall shelf life.
As for storage, keeping them in a fridge should be fine. Once you open the jar, it is best to keep the capers in the fridge to maintain their freshness.
Look at the color of the capers to know if they have gone bad or they are still good for consumption. Capers are mostly green. However, they tend to darken when they get spoilt. That is why they will end up being black or brown. So, make sure not to ingest blackened or brown capers.
Best Ways of Using Capers
As much as capers are common in Mediterranean dishes, you can still get creative with them. Below are some of the best ways of using capers.
- Salads could use capers to spice up things. The work of capers would be to add more bright green colors and still introduce a briny flavor. They can still be great for salad dressing and a substitute to some other ingredients to its high sodium content.
- The soups could also use capers. This is because the capers would make them tastier and creamier. Some of the soups that could use capers include tomato, butternut squash, or onion soup. You can always get creative where necessary.
- If you are planning on holding a gathering or party for a small group of friends, eggs can be on the menu. The best way to finish them off would be adding a few capers to the mix. In this case, you could fold the eggs into omelets or make frittatas.
- There is no way you could forget about using capers on fish. That is why you have to use them with salmon or any other fish types. This is because capers have a way of complimentingthe salmon. If you lightly fry the salmon and add capers, it should be a great meal.
- Nachos are also a great dish when you add capers. They can be a great meal for those who love having casual game nights in their homes. You will quite enjoy the combination of nachos and capers.
There can be many ways of using capers. What is important is that you find something that works for you and go for it.
Caper Substitutes in Recipes
Capers are awesome to use in your recipe, however, for some reason you may not be able to use them. It may be because you have used them too many times or you are not supposed to eat high sodium food. In such a case, here are some caper substitutes you could use in recipes still.
- Green olives are a common choice. They are acidic, salty, and savory just like capers. You could use them in different recipes without a problem. Just make sure you use half the size of what you would use as capers. This means one green olive is equivalent to two capers.
- A few squeezes of fresh lemon can also do the trick. Lemon has similar zip and acidity as capers. So, it should be nice to use as a substitute. Keep in mind that lemon is intensely sour, so your addition should be based on your taste buds.
- Pickles would not have missed on this list. Pickles are a worthy swap to using capers thanks to their signature crunch. You could cut the pickles to the size of capers and substitute them in equal amounts.
- The green peppercorns have a similar look to capers. The same applies to their taste too. The green peppercorns vary from the black peppercorns as they are less spicy. So, you will not worry that they might throw off the dish. Most people use them as garnish for their food.
- Thyme is also a great choice. This herb is known for its pungency and bitterness with hints of lemon. Make sure to add it to your dish early so that the flavor can have a chance of showing off. You should only use thyme as a substitute of capers in slow-cooked dishes.
- As I had mentioned earlier, caper berries are also edible. So, you can always go for them as a substitute to capers. The berries are bigger, so substitute with half the amount you would use when cooking with capers.
The list keeps going on with many other options you could use as caper substitutes. What is important is for you to understand the quantity you can use to substitute capers. Do not use too much of some substitutes as they might throw off the dish.
Can You Grow Capers in Your Garden?
You may be interested so much in using capers in your recipes that you also want to grow them in your garden. Well, that is something possible.
You will have the option of growing them from seeds or cuttings. One thing that people find a challenge is getting caper seeds. If you can get some, make sure to grow then in a large pot and do not overwater them as their foliage is their natural water reservoir.
If you opt for growing them from cuttings, then make sure to do it in February, March or April. Plant the cuttings in well-draining soil to help them grow better and faster.
As part of caring for your caper plants, make sure they are exposed to enough sunlight each day. Growing such plants also needs summer temperatures so that they can grow better and lead to better harvests.
The size matters a lot when harvesting capers. It is based on size that you can group your capers correctly. The size options include nonpareils, capuchins, seconds, capotes, and thirds. The nonpareils are the most prized and most expensive too.
Capers are awesome to use in different recipes. Their flavors might not be so pronounced, but they still make the meals better and unique. What is important is that you always use fresh capers in your recipes.
The last thing you need is eating stale capers. Do not worry about buying them as they can easily be found in different grocery stores around the country.