Make the most of culinary herbs and spices.

Capers QandA

I have a jar of imported capers that I purchased several years ago. My question is: are they still good or should I throw them away? The only markings on it for expiration is N 2 A 8 141 and under that is CAPOTE 07:12. MF

Three years is probably about the maximum shelf life to ensure good quality but there are several "ifs" to consider. That is, if they are packed in brine, rather than salt-packed, and if they have not been opened. Capote refers to the larger caper, as opposed to the smaller non-pareil type.


How long can you keep an unopened jar of capers in your cupboard? PR

The jar should have an expiration date on it. If yours doesn't it could be one of two things. One, the company simply doesn't do that or, two, your jar was produced before they started putting expiration dates on everything which probably means it's so old you should throw it out. I have a jar in my refrigerator that I opened about three months ago and the expiration date on it is December 2009. Using that as an example I'd say two years or so would probably be a good guide.


How long can capers be stored in the refrigerator? JS

Once opened, a jar of capers should keep in the refrigerator for about six months. Be sure to use a clean utensil each time you remove some from the jar.


Is there a substitute for capers...what else can be used?? Thank you, JR

Help!! I don't have capers and I would like to know what you suggest as a substitute for this item in my Salmon dinner??

Thank you! YJ

You could both try chopped green olives or dill pickles. The taste will be similar but capers are a flavor all their own; you might want to buy some.

Here's one that's full of our favorite recipes because we wrote the book! It is also full of information, helpful hints and ideas for using herbs and spices in your kitchen.

I have just read your article called "Capers Uncovered". Today we were picking the small green nodules (almost fig-like, only not as big) and noticed a milky white sap oozing from each stem. Do these capers need to be treated in any way before pickling and is this sap dangerous? We live in Victoria, Australia if you are wondering why we are picking them at this time of the year. CV

I didn't find any specific information about harvesting capers in my resources but by private mail I am sending information that I found from the Australian Agriculture and Natural Resources Online (ANRO). Perhaps you will be able to write or call the person who is conducting specific research about producing capers in Australia. I am a big advocate for trying to find information about local plants from local sources. I hope it helps and also hope you will let us know what you find out.


Hi, can you please tell me the name of the shrub or plant that produces capers? Thanks

Capers are the unopened flower bud of a Mediterranean bush, Capparis spinosa. Check out "Capers Uncovered" to read all about them.


I need advice on how to use nasturtium seeds. I understand they can be used as a substitute for capers but exactly how do I do that? Do I need to cook it or pickle it or what? C

According to The Herbfarm Cookbook you need to soak them in a brine for three days before pickling.  I am going to send you the recipe from the book via private e-mail since I don't have permission to publish the recipe here.  You might also check with for other recipes. Editor's note: has unfortunately disappeared.


I have a caper bush which has started to produce the larger capers, about an inch long. Can you provide me with a receipt for pickling them or any other form of preparation? Thanks in advance. Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain

Neat-o! Just another reason I want to visit Spain next year. I found recipes at two sites, but you might also want to check with a local source, perhaps a college or agricultural center, to see if your caperberries need any special treatment that the smaller ones would not.  At GourMed you will find a basic recipe along with an interesting article about capers.  I didn't know people ate the leaves of the bush too!  Picklenet has a recipe that sounds more tasty for pickled nasturtiums but says you can substitute capers for the nasturtium buds.  Good luck and be sure to let us know how it comes out!  Editor's note: has unfortunately disappeared.


What are capers and where do they come from? Thank you.

Check out Capers Uncovered for lots of information about this popular condiment.  You will also find a tasty idea for an appetizer using capers near the end of this list.


I love capers but have only had them in dishes from restaurants. I would like to try them at home but am not sure how to use them. Do you add them at the end or do they cook along with the meat? Can you give me a good recipe to start with? Thanks!

Capers add a mild peppery and pickled flavor to a variety of savory dishes. You will often find them combined with fish or tossed into salads. Capers are a common ingredient in tapenades, a flavorful spread. A quick search of your cookbook indexes should yield a recipe. You should rinse capers before using, especially if you are lucky enough to find those packed in salt. They don't need to cook so add them near the end of cooking. For a terrific appetizer or light meal, try smoked salmon or trout fillets arranged on a plate with a bit of horseradish-cream cheese, capers and a nice flatbread or focaccia. Add lemon wedges and sprinkle on chopped fresh dill for flavorful garnishes.


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