Tuesday, 22 June 2010


Caper bushes (Capparis spinosa in Latin and Capres in French) are native to the Mediterranean but seem relatively rare in this area. Now, thanks to neighbours in the village, I have been alerted to some growing by a chemin (country lane). The plants like to grow on walls, and while there are plenty of those, few sport capers. They're also hard to spot, except in June when the delicate short lived and highly attractive flowers flourish.
The khaki green buds are of course the caper most of us know pickled in tiny jars and dumped on pizzas or skate. One can be seen in the top-left of the above picture. A branch will have small buds forming near the tip that get progressively larger until flowering buds are reached towards the base. Small is best. Those less than 7 mm wide are classed as non pareil (literally unequalled) and the French capers, presumably as the climate is caper marginal, are small. I have some peppercorn to petite pois sized ones maturing in sherry vinegar and another batch in sea salt. Time will tell, but for now they're seriously potent.

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