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Capers from Salina Sicily; A look behind the scenes of the production of this exclusive antipasti specialty.

Italienische Kapernproduktion auf Salina von Di Bennardo

Capers are the edible buds of the caper plant (Cultivar: capparis spinosa), which are used in many Mediterranean dishes. They have an intense flavor - tart-sour, salty, mildly spicy and slightly bitter. Capers are the still-closed buds of the caper flower before they fully open. The caper plant is a hardy prickly shrub with fleshy leaves that produces small white flowers. It thrives mainly in Mediterranean regions and belongs to the genus Capparis in the caper family (Capparaceae).

Capers or caper shrubs thrive best in sunny and dry regions of the Mediterranean. The shrub is adaptable and can survive in poor soils, making it a hardy plant. Capers have a long history of culinary use and have been cultivated and appreciated in Mediterranean countries for centuries - as a seasoning as well as a medicinal plant.

Italienische Kapern fermentiert Bio aus Salina von Di Bennardo

The orchid of the Mediterranean: places of cultivation and varieties of caper plant presented

From the field to the pickled capers delicacy: The production steps of our capers on Salina in Italy

The harvest period of the caper flower bud extends from May to July. Then, at the beginning of August, immediately after the bud harvest, begins the harvest of the caper apples (cucunci) that arise from the flowers. The caper pickers work seven days a week, including Sundays. They harvest the same bush every 8 to 10 days during the season, a total of between 6 and 8 times during the season, depending on the vintage.

The workday begins at 5:30 a.m. and ends at 11:00 a.m., as the blazing sun then becomes too hot and the thorns of the caper bush soften as the heat increases, making harvesting more difficult. The arduous harvest is done in a stooped position over the bush, as each caper bud must be picked by hand. A skilled picker manages up to 2 kg of capers per hour.

The harvested bright green buds are carefully collected in a belly bag called "a sacchetta". When this bag is bulging, each picker pours her haul into her own, even larger cloth bag called "sacco," which holds up to 15 kg. At 11:00 a.m., a melody sounds - the chief picker's cell phone signals the end of harvesting for the day. Each picker brings her daily harvest to the manufactory, where the caper bags are weighed individually. Payday for the pickers is a wage of 3.5 EUR per 1 kg of harvested capers.

After harvesting, the capers are carefully placed in large 50 kg vats and salted with medium coarse sea salt from Trapani. This initiates the fermentation process that lasts two weeks. Every day, the small buds are carefully transferred from one vat to another to mix them and prevent the development of mold. However, this procedure, known as "battere i capperi," creates a tart smell that can irritate the eyes - one saying even goes, "i capperi ti fanno piancere" - the capers make you cry.

The capers then rest in the salt for another 90 days until the fermentation is complete and the delicate buds are ready to be consumed and bottled. The salted capers are preserved in airtight jars with sea salt to keep them for up to 3 years. This elaborate process gives the capers their flavor and is an important part of the traditional production of this delicious delicacy from Sicily.

Italienisches Rezept kandierte Kapern aus Pollara von Di Bennardo

The culinary importance of capers in Italian and international cuisine.

In Italy, capers are particularly popular and can be found in many classic dishes. A well-known example is "Vitello Tonnato," a dish of thinly sliced veal served with a tuna-caper sauce. Another delicious use of capers is in "Pasta Puttanesca," a spicy tomato sauce prepared with capers, olives, anchovies and garlic.

Capers, as well as caper apples or caper berries, are not only a flavorful highlight in Italian cuisine, but they also play a significant role in the country's culture and culinary traditions. For example, they are often used on festive occasions and celebrations, such as weddings or family gatherings, in dishes like "caponata," a Sicilian vegetable dish with eggplant, capers and raisins

Also known from French cuisine, capers are often used in the classic "Sauce Tartare", while in German cuisine they can be found in the "Königsberger Klopse".

When cooking, it should be noted that capers should not be heated too much in the kitchen. This destroys much of the flavor and texture. They are usually added at the end of cooking or served cold in salads.

Italienisches Kapernpflücken von Giovanni Di Bennardo Di Bennardo AG

Why are capers so healthy? Health benefits and nutrients of capers

Capers are not only versatile in taste, but also offer a number of health benefits due to their nutritional composition. They contain important vitamins such as vitamin K, vitamin A and folic acid, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium. In addition, capers are rich in antioxidants that help reduce cell damage and fight inflammation in the body.

Italienische Kaperngebüsch auf Salina von Di Bennardo

Di Bennardo capers organic quality: responsible and sustainable

Premium quality capers can be recognized by several factors. The capers should not be too large and should not exceed a diameter of 7-9mm as a rule. They should have a vivid green color and be firm and crunchy.

The region plays an exceptionally important role. Do not reach for capers, whose region is not known for the cultivation of capers.

Our organic capers, the candied capers as well as our caper leaves are grown on the island of Salina, one of the best regions for capers in the world. The cultivation is sustainable and only natural resources are used for our capers. Each step is done by hand using traditional methods and contributes to the gentle processing throughout the process. The result is gourmet capers of the highest quality.

The premium quality of Di Bennardo capers in jar

Frequently asked questions about capers

Capers are the pickled flower buds of the caper shrub (Capparis spinosa) and are used as a seasoning, especially in Mediterranean cuisine.

Capers have an intense tart and sour taste. They are salty, mildly spicy and slightly bitter.

Capers are harvested from the caper bush in the Mediterranean region when the bud is still closed and then pickled in salt, vinegar or oil to preserve them and improve their flavor.

The best capers can be found in the south of Italy, often in delicatessens, weekly markets, specialized grocery stores and Di Bennardo in Switzerland.

Before eating the capers should necessarily be desalted. You rinse the capers under cold water, then put them in a bowl of fresh cold water. The capers should be desalted in the water for at least one hour before consumption. Several hours or overnight is even better. The water in which the capers are desalinated should be changed from time to time. When the capers are ready to be desalted, gently place them on a piece of household paper and carefully pat them dry. After that they are ready for the table.

In general, capers in glass are well sealed and stored in a cool place up to 1 - 2 years. Even after opening the jar, you do not need to store the capers in the refrigerator. It's best to keep your jar of capers in a cool place in your household cupboard.

The women of Salina are caper harvesters who contribute significantly to caper production in the Salina region through painstaking manual labor based on decades of experience and a deep connection to nature.