What's the Deal with Capers?

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You either love them or hate them. Until a few years ago, I wasn't part of the camp that loves them. There were very few things I didn't like, but capers were on that short little list. Then something switched and now I crave them.

Capers, as we know them in little jars, or bins like the one shown at left, are the immature flower buds of the caper shrub, either pickled in vinegar or brined in salt. The semi-mature fruits, known as caperberries, may also be preserved and eaten.

Their flavor is piquant and lemony. Capers add pungency to Mediterranean dishes like pasta sauces, pizza, fish, meats and salads. They go well with olives, argulga, anchovies, and artichokes. Having a jar in the refrigerator at all is a good idea. I often use them when winging it on a spare pantry and leftovers.

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.