CategoryHerbs and spices

Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Equipment | Techniques | Cookbook Disambiguation Pages | Ingredients

Capers are the pickled buds of the Mediterranean caper bush.



The buds, when ready to pick, are a dark olive green and about the size of a corn kernel. After picking, they are pickled in a vinegar or vinegar-and-salt solution.[1] They have a salty, sour, and somewhat bitter yet floral flavor.[1] The grown fruit of the caper shrub is also used, prepared similarly to the buds.

Capers are categorized and sold by their size, defined as follows, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable:

  • Non-pareil (0–7 mm)
  • Surfines (7–8 mm)
  • Capucines (8–9 mm)
  • Capotes (9–11 mm)
  • Fines (11–13 mm)
  • Grusas (14+ mm)

Selection and storage


Capers are typically stored in cans or jars with their pickling liquid. These can usually be kept at room temperature until opening, after which point they should be stored in the refrigerator. They can keep for a while there.

Capers are often used as a seasoning or garnish for salads, pizzas, cold dishes, and beverages. It is also used in a variety of sauces.[1][2]



Caper berries can be substituted with pickled unripe nasturtium seeds, which have a very similar texture and flavour.




  1. a b c Van Wyk, Ben-Erik (2014-09-26). Culinary Herbs and Spices of the World. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-09183-9.
  2. Davidson, Alan (2014-01-01). Jaine, Tom (ed.). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199677337.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-967733-7.