Reply To: Capers

#4812
Caramatti
Participant

I mentioned in my presentation that in Pantelleria (which is reputed to have some of the world’s best capers), they cure capers with sea salt only (using a specific sea salt from Sicily). In Pantelleria they don’t add water or vinegar (which some other curing methods call for). Here’s the salt-only curing method that I’m trying out right now. You need a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients with. (Sorry, but I didn’t think to take note of the equivalents in volume; maybe next time.)

  • Weigh the caper buds/berries, and place them in a glass bowl that you can leave them in for 3 weeks.
  • Calculate 40 percent of the capers’ weight. This is the amount of sea salt you want to add to the capers now.
  • Add the salt to the capers in the bowl, and stir them.
  • Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap (loosely!) or with a paper towel, and set aside in a place where they’ll be out of the way, but you’ll see them every day. These things are going to make a stink for several days, so keep that in mind!
  • Once every day or two stir the capers to re-distribute the salt. The first few days you’ll notice liquid gathering. The salt is drawing that liquid out of the capers. And yes, they’ll stink (That’s good! They’re getting rid of stuff you *don’t* want to eat!)
  • After 10 days, whatever liquid you noticed in the bowl will be gone or almost gone.
  • However much sea salt you added before, now you’re going to add half as much (20 percent of the weight of the capers). Don’t remove anything from the bowl; just add another 20 percent salt, and stir.
  • Keep stirring every 1 to 2 days for another 10 days, until you’ve stirred the sea salt/caper mixture for a total of 20 days.
  • That’s it! Your capers are ready to use and to store in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  • You can store these capers for I-don’t-know-how-long. At least a year by what I’ve read. They’re salt-cured (which is pretty similar to being dried), but they’ve also gone through lacto-fermentation, which is another food preservation method. Unless you don’t like capers at all, you’ll eat them or give them away as gifts before there’s any threat of spoilage.

    You’ll need to soak these capers before using them (unlike the ones you buy in the store). But if you soak/rinse them long enough (maybe even overnight!) or if you add them to a dish *instead* of the salt that the dish calls for, you’ll notice distinctly earthy, floral flavors that aren’t like any other ingredient I’ve come across. Capers that are cured in salt *only* don’t have a vinegar-y bite that distracts from the flavor of the capers themselves. I’ve preserved them in a salty vinegar solution before, but I prefer this way because they taste better (to me). The only drawback is the time it takes to soak the extra salt back out of them.

    I’m still experimenting with this. I put 3 salt-cured caper berries in water to soak, and I ate one after 45 minutes (way too salty!), then about 3 hours (still salty!), and the last one the next day (not salty). Do your own experients, and see what you think! Then let us know here in the WLA CRFG forum!