Caperberries have been appearing on relish trays with olives, cheese and crackers around town for a few months. People are always asking what they are. They look like olives on a stem, but they are not related to olives. I went searching for some and found them in the food section of Specs, an amazingly stocked liquor and finer foods store across from Sunland Park Mall. Caperberries are now also on the olive bar at the new Whole Foods Market. The advantage of shopping the olive bar is than you can just get a few to taste instead of a whole jar. I do say that I enjoy ta nibble or two whenever I can find them.
Capers, tiny immature flower buds, dried and pickled in brine and used in many wonderful dishes. They are originally Mediteranean and now are grown in many countries. I like them especially with something that has a little lemon juice in it. They enhance the acidity of a dish. Caperberries are the fruit of the same plant. Some say they have a slight lemon taste and others compare them to green pimento-stuffed olives. I lean toward the olive side. Both capers and the berries are pickled in a vinegar and salt brine. Capers need to be rinsed to cut the brine flavor. Caperberries are crisper and milder than capers. One resource I used said they may be substituted for olives in salads or chopped as a substitute for capers in recipes. It did not recommend using capers as a substitute for the berries because they have a strong flavor.
I was intrigued with the thought of using caperberries as a substitute for olives, so I immediately reached for gin and vermouth to see how caper berries would work in a dry martini. Of course this was in the interest of culinary science! Both of them were!
My usual martini recipe with an olive garnish is pleasantly dry. I use 2.5 oz dry gin and .5 oz dry vermouth, shaken until well chilled. I used the same recipe with a garnish of two caperberries on a pick. It was quite tasty. Rather than the slight brininess of the olive garnish, the caperberry was very lightly sweeter than I have previously experienced with two pimento-stuffed olives. I think I’m going to have to re-run the experiment with side by side tasting – olive vs caperberry.
I’ll publish the results after the experiment – probably the day after.
Two martini’s made me remember a wonderful Dorothy Parker rhyme. The challenge here is tell me who Dorthy Parker was and to complete the rhyme
I love a dry martini,
One or two at most!
With two I’m under the table,