Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Capers - Week 5

Wednesday has become caper day around here. This morning I harvested the little pile of buds shown above. If I wanted to harvest more uniform sized buds I would probably have to pick about every 3 to 4 days, but I'm not concerned about uniformity so once a week has been enough.

After removing the stems from most of the buds I ended up with 1 3/4 ounces of buds without stems and 3/4 ounce with stems. So, the total harvest is about 1/2 pound in 5 weeks.

The jar on the left holds last week's harvest (week 4) and on the right is today's (week 5).

The jar in front is the capers from the week before last (week 3). Those spent a week in a brine solution and then were drained and packed in coarse sea salt. I've continued to keep them at 55F along with the jars of capers in brine. I tasted one of the salt packed capers today, yummy but needs to sit a bit longer to mellow. The capers from week 2 are still drying indoors on a tray, I tasted one today and it was pretty good. The caper I tasted today from week 1 was fantastic, ready for showtime. If you click on the photo you can probably see how the buds that were reddish colored when fresh have developed bright pink spots.

I've chosen one of my Tuscan plants in a pot for seed saving. It's been growing very nicely and is producing a fair amount of buds. The buds shown above should open in a few days and hopefully they will pollinate and produce berries. I'll probably help them along with a fine little paint brush.


  1. This is so incredibly inspiring. Next year, I'm going to branch out to more exotic plants. It's not as though the garden standbys have been easy, but if I'm going to struggle, I want more than a tomato to show for it!

  2. You are a marvel. I would never have the patience to deal with such a labor-intensive crop, but I admire you for doing it. Do you know why capers develop those spots? I remember cooking with some once that turned the garlic in the recipe blue! Some weird chemical reaction?

  3. Stefaneener, that's pretty much how I feel about vegetable gardening. Why put all that work into growing the ordinary stuff that I could get at the farmer's market?

    Karen, Yesterday it occurred to me, what if I'm successful at growing a bunch of caper plants and I have a pound of buds instead of just 2 ounces to pick every week? I'm not so sure I'd have the patience for that! The spots on the capers are rutin crystals that form during the curing process - they contribute to the distinctive flavor of capers. I wonder if the blue reaction was to something that the capers were packed in, vinegar perhaps - I've never seen that happen when cooking with capers before.

  4. What a harvest! How do they taste btw? I've never tasted one... Do you make pickles out of 'em?

  5. Oh Chandramouli, that's a tough question. I'm absolutely horrible at describing things like that so... well, I'm not even going to try. I have read that they are available, though rare, in India and I did find a website that lists Indian names for them. Perhaps you could go on a bit of a treasure hunt and track some down! Here's the site:

    I am going to try putting some into a vinegar solution to pickle them. Stay tuned!


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I value your insights and feedback.