The Capers - Pantelleria
Pantelleria is the homeland of the capers. Its territory of volcanic origin and the hot and windy climate fostered a broader development of this plant with a taste and a smell of great success.
The plant of the capers belongs to the family of Capparidaceae. It grows spontaneously or cultivated on the rocks and on the cliffs of some Mediterranean regions with a hot and humid climate. In Pantelleria during summer or in periods of drought the stones keep the roots moist and so capers can survive.
The caper has a wood shaft and an herbaceous upper part. It can reach 30-35 centimetres tall. Its succulent rounded leaves are green with reddish shades. The white-pink buds must be reaped between May and August, when they sprout. They will become mature during the processing. Their fruits, the cucumbers, are pickled for a week and then put into big wooden vats with white salt to remove the bitterness. The water deposited forms with the salt a saturated pickle which facilitates the ripening. Then capers are well strained and put in another vat with other salt for ten days more.
Only after that they are ready to be eaten. The best way to preserve them is in glass hermetic containers with a lot of white salt to maintain its moisture. The capers of Pantelleria received the PGI label, Protected Geographical Indication, which was granted only to the capers of this island. They are very important for the Mediterranean cuisine because of the particular taste they can give. The caper is used in many recipes, in hors d’oeuvre, in the pasta or in the side dishes.
The only important thing to do before cooking is washing it with plenty of water to remove excess salt.