Capers come from a Mediterranean bush, the buds of which must be hand-picked at the right moment of maturity (making capers relatively expensive). Capers are first sun-dried for a day (which gives them their characteristic wilted look), then either covered with olive oil, salted, or, most typically, pickled in a vinegar brine.

Capers are used in wide range of sauces and dressings, including French tartare, remoulade, and ravigote, Italian tonnato sauce and antipasti salad dressings. Caper mayonnaise is a popular accompaniment for fish dishes, and

Capers range in size from the peppercorn-sized French variety to the blueberry-sized Italian type. All capers should be rinsed before using to eliminate excess salt. Nasturtium seeds or the Spanish olive-sized, stemmed caper berries can be substituted for capers in recipes.

A wide range of capers are offered at grocery and gourmet stores. They’re typically sold in little jars, but they may also be offered in bulk where bulk olives or pickles are sold. Capers should be fully submerged in their liquid and refrigerated for storage.

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