June Herb of the Month: Capers

Did you know:

Capers – Capparis spinosa
• Capers are the flower buds of the Flinders rose (or caper bush) Capparis spinosa
• This thorny shrub is native to the Mediterranean and hardy to USDA zone 9
• Capers thrive in hot dry climates
• Grows as a mounding shrub with a sprawling habit
• The flower buds are hand-picked then either pickled, brined or packed in salt to preserve
• The bitter flavor is mellowed by pickling, resulting in a salty, slightly sweet taste
• Buds that bloom produce a white flower with purple stamens which then will form a small fruit
called a caperberry.
• Caperberries are also pickled and are often served on antipasto platters or used as a garnish for
• The smaller the caper, the better the quality, flavor and commercial value, and are also called
nonpareilles or surfines; larger ones are known as capucines or communes
• Often used as a garnish with tomato sauces, meat, fish, salads, soups as well as pizza and antipasto
• Nutritionally, capers contain phytonutrients, antioxidants and the vitamins A, K, niacin, iron and
riboflavin; low in calories (23 per 100 grams) but high in salt due to the pickling or brining process
• Historical use dates back to ancient Greeks and Romans as a carminative, analgesic, an expectorant,
a diuretic and vasoconstrictor.
• It was believed Biblical times, that the caperberry acted as an aphrodisiac

caper plant


Tips for Use:
• Use as a garnish or add to salads, sauces, dressings, vegetables and fish dishes
• Garnish Bloody Mary cocktails and martinis
• The flavor of capers compliment lemons and pair well together

Fresh Tuna Salad Pita

8-ounce tuna fillet, cooked and chopped
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons light yogurt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon minced onion
1 teaspoon capers
2 teaspoons toasted pine nuts, chopped
¼ cup chopped cucumber
2 tablespoons minced celery
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon chopped fresh lemon thyme
4 whole-grain pitas
Blend all ingredients together. Serve on a warmed whole-grain pita with green-leaf lettuce and thinly sliced
Katherine K. Schlosser, HSA North Carolina Unit
The Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking With Herbs


Arugula Cappellini With Lemon Caper Sauce

1 ½ pounds cappellini noodles
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon seeded and diced chile pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup dry white wine
4 cups chopped arugula
¾ cup shaved fresh Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
Cook the noodles al dente.
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil. Add capers, chile, lemon rind,
wine, and lemon juice and heat through.
Drain the pasta, add to garlic mixture. Toss in the arugula and Parmesan to combine. To serve, top with a
generous sprinkling of black pepper. Yields 6-8 servings.
Anna Reich, HSA Potomac Unit
The Essential Guide to Growing and Cooking With Herbs