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Definition: caper from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Trailing shrub native to the Mediterranean. Its flower buds are preserved in vinegar as a condiment. (Capparis spinosa, family Capparidaceae.)


Summary Article: CAPER(S) from Cambridge World History of Food

A spiny trailing shrub, the caper bush (Capparis spinosa) grows to between 4 and 5 feet in height. It is native to the Mediterranean region and possibly to the Middle East as well. Its flower buds, which are picked and pickled in vinegar, are the capers that have been used since at least the time of the ancient Greeks as a condiment to add a salty-sour flavor to sauces, cheeses, salad dressings, stews, and various other meat and fish dishes. The caper bush grows wild and thrives in southern Europe, where Italy and Spain are the biggest caper producers.

Common names and synonyms: Caper berry, caper bud, caperbush, caper fruit, cappero, kápari, smooth caper, spiny caper, tapèra.

See also: “Spices and Flavorings,” Part II, Section F, Chapter 1.

© Cambridge University Press 2000

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