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What Are Caperberries? Unveiling the Unique Flavors & Uses in Cuisine

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By
Updated May 16, 2024
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What are Caperberries?

Dive into the savory world of Mediterranean cuisine, where the caper bush, Capparis spinosa, offers two distinct culinary delights: capers and caperberries. While both hail from the same plant, they are not the same, a fact often shrouded in culinary confusion. 


Capers—the small, round, and lemony flavor enhancers—are actually the unripened flower buds, harvested before they can bloom. So, what are caperberries? Caperberries are the fruit of the caper bush, larger and containing seeds, typically consumed pickled. Understanding what caperberries are is essential for any food enthusiast looking to add authentic Mediterranean flair to their dishes.

In addition to the tiny buds, caperberries are also harvested, and some may prefer their taste to the stronger caper buds. The berries on the caper plant are oblong, semi-green fruits, about the size of or slightly larger than a table grape. Though they still have some lemon taste, they are much milder than caper buds. You can include sliced caperberries in recipes calling for capers if you want a dish that is a bit less acidic. The substitution doesn’t work well in reverse—generally when a recipe calls for caperberries, using capers instead will provide too much acid in a dish.

There is some argument regarding the taste of caperberries. Some sources refer to them as stronger than capers themselves, while others describe them as milder. Taste may depend upon when the berries are harvested and additionally how they are prepared. The unripe caperberry may be off-putting to some because of its smell. It often exudes a pungent smell due to the high concentration of mustard oil, called methyl isothiocynate. It may be that references calling the caperberry more pungent than the caper are referring to berries harvested before they are fully ripe.

Caperberries are frequently prepared brined and may be eaten very much in the same manner you might eat olives or pickles. They could also be an interesting substitution for olives in dishes like pasta or Greek salad. According to Aryuvedic medical texts, the berries may also be good for you. They can supposedly stimulate the liver, relieve flatulence, and reduce rheumatism.

One use of caperberries and the caper plants that has not been successful is their use in cosmetic preparations. Some people develop contact dermatitis when exposed to crushed caperberries or lotions using the caper bush leaves. If you do buy a skin product with the berries as an ingredient, you might want to test it out on a small amount of skin prior to applying it everywhere. A couple of uses on a small patch of skin should tell you whether or not you’re likely to be allergic to it.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Editorial Team
By Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon994472 — On Feb 11, 2016

Lidl sells them in the UK.

By anon983360 — On Dec 28, 2014

You can purchase caper berries at Whole Foods in the olive section. If you like pickled, salty, foods you might try these.

By anon326236 — On Mar 20, 2013

Big Lots has them I bought a small jar a couple of days ago for $1.50.

By anon314609 — On Jan 18, 2013

My jar of caperberries (from Big Lots) says 9 berries have 1 gram of carbohydrate. Nine is roughly 1/4 cup.

By anon284250 — On Aug 09, 2012

Are the little seeds supposed to be hard like that? Someone please tell me, because when I bit it, it was filled with little black hard balls. Yuck!

By anon283489 — On Aug 04, 2012

I just bought four 8oz. jars at Big Lots for $1.50 each. They didn't know what they had, they were so cheap. Usually they are $4-$5 at most stores. I bought all on the shelf. I love them.

By anon268262 — On May 13, 2012

Can anyone tell me the carbohydrate content of caper berries?

By anon231090 — On Nov 22, 2011

I bought some at Cost Plus World Market.

By anon158666 — On Mar 08, 2011

I got mine in Stop and Shop. Right next to capers.

By anon116074 — On Oct 05, 2010

You can get them at Whole Foods.

By anon87810 — On Jun 01, 2010

I use caper berries instead of olives in my daily gin martini. It's a great flavor and a nice change from the olives.

By anon80040 — On Apr 26, 2010

you might try trader joe's, or if you would want a large can try the huge store with only 750 (costco).

By anon74905 — On Apr 04, 2010

I received a jar of caperberries as a gift. That is the best gift I have ever received. I loved the

caperberries, but can't find anymore to buy. Would love to know who carries them so I may purchase some.

Editorial Team
Editorial Team
Our Editorial Team, made up of seasoned professionals, prioritizes accuracy and quality in every piece of content. With years of experience in journalism and publishing, we work diligently to deliver reliable and well-researched content to our readers.
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