Q: What is the difference between capers and caper berries?

A A caper is the pickled bud of the Capparis spinosa, or caper bush. It grows in almost all the Mediterranean countries.

Capers are categorized and sold by their size, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable.

If the caper bud is not picked, it flowers and produces a fruit called a caper berry. The fruit can be pickled and then served as a mezze, or in salads. It can replace olives in some recipes. If your recipe requires heating or cooking, you could use caper berries rather than capers, as after boiling, caper berries retain more flavor.

The Greeks make good use of the caper's leaves. They are pickled or boiled and preserved in jars with brine like caper buds. Caper leaves are excellent in salads and in fish dishes. Dried caper leaves are also used as a substitute for rennet in the manufacturing of high quality cheese.

According to ayurvedic texts, caper berries are useful in reducing the symptoms of rheumatism, stimulate the liver and relieve


Unripe nasturtium seeds can be substituted for capers; they have a very similar texture and flavour when pickled.

Click here for a podcast on growing capers.

See Wickedfood Cooking School's delicious recipe for Chicken breasts with Caper Sauce

Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – teambuilding cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference.

Our cooking lessons are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients.