Generally the desire comes on vacation. You look up at the beach or you take a sunny path, and you see it. Here it is, anchored to rocks or a Wall of stones, one caper plant two meters long, with fleshy leaves that move in the wind and that explosion of pinkish white flowers, with a tuft of violet peduncles inside. She's gorgeous. Capers we know how to buy them, but are we aware that we can also cultivate them? like this: it is grown on the balcony. Converting the terrace into a vegetable garden is increasingly common. With capers we transform it into a magical, fruity and semi-wild landscape spot. And then the home made capers are a satisfaction on the table, to put on under salt or pickle to flavor the food summer, but it is useless to deny that at a domestic level true virtue is Decorative.
There flowering it is very long, from June to September, and throughout this period a choice must be made: whether to opt for flowers or for the kitchen. Yes, because capers are nothing but i buds still closed. If the flowering is generous, you can move on by half and half: that is, leaving a few flowers on the plant and picking up some buds for tuna veal, pizza bruschette, sweet pepper pans, rabbit and more. Then, later in the season, i also arrive fruits, sayings cucunci, large and fleshy, summer protagonists in aperitif bars. And those can be seized at will, they are there on purpose.
But back to our plant. When you see it in nature, the first instinct is delinquent, yes, you want to climb and take it away. Absolutely not to do. You want to disfigure the landscape because it's uncivilized, you want it because it's probably illegal, you want it because then the plant dies.[IconfessIamwritingthatIdiditItookasmalloneafteradangerousclimbonarockyridgeinSardiniaandinreturnIhaveonlyscratchescutsandbruisesleftWellheisrightwithmyrenownedgreenthumbBeyondthefeelingsofguiltIunderstoodonething:sorobustinitsnaturalenvironmentregardlessofthesunandthedrynessoftheearththecaperplant[ConfessoiochestoscrivendodiaverlofattoNehopresaunapiccoladopounapericolosascalatasuuncostonerocciosoinSardegnaeincambiomisonorimastisolograffitaglielividiBenmistaconbuonapacedelmiorinomatopolliceverdeAldilàdeisensidicolpahocapitounacosa:cosìrobustanelsuoambientenaturaleincurantedelsoleedell’ariditàdellaterralapiantadelcapperowild it is very fragile].
To be able to grow it on the balcony you need to buy one of it greenhouse, or already used to living in jar and to feed on adequate fertilizers. It can be found in nurseries specialized in vegetables, in agricultural consortia, in those small local shops that sell hoes, seeds and salads, in the markets in the square.
Once the plan has been purchased (do not leave from seed, is a botanical undertaking almost impossible), here is how to proceed.
1) Put the jar in one sunny position or semi-up and leave it there for a few days (irrigating as in step 3).
2) Transfer the plant with its undamaged ground bread into crock pot larger and deeper, which can last a few years: the roots are delicate and it is good not to disturb them often. Put a layer of expanded clay on the bottom and fill with soft soil mixed with 30% of sand (sell them ready-made).
3) The caper does not like moisture: moisten little and often, avoiding that the earth is soaked or dry.
4) If possible, avoid the the saucer and surely remove it throughout the autumn and winter: stagnant water is lethal.
5) For a more abundant flowering you can ask in a greenhouse fertilizer adequate.
6) At the beginning of winter, when the leaves have fallen, pruned the branches by cutting them to a length of 8-10 cm.
7) In winter, those who live in a harsh climate zone (below 8 °) will have to to protect the plant: place straw on the ground and wrap the stems with non-woven fabric, or move the vase into the stairwell or into an attic.
8) In the period of rest, little irrigated, only when the earth dries up, because the roots absorb little water; an excess would make them rot.
9) From the point of view of the illnesses, the plant fears above all the snails, to be removed by hand if possible, also to avoid poisoning with pesticides if you want to eat the buds. It is known that the caper attracts ants, which do not damage it, but could be a problem in the home. Especially in this case, do not use insecticides. On the market (supermarkets and greenhouses) there are cans that contain bollards that can remove them.
10) Capers cannot be tasted as they are, just picked from the plant: they have a slightly intense and too herbaceous taste. You will have to treat them by putting them in salt or vinegar. The best technique is that of under salt, it preserves the taste better and is more practical: just put the buds in a bowl with plenty of coarse salt and stir occasionally for 3 days. Then pour it all into an airtight jar and keep it in the fridge.
21 July 2016
updated July 2019
by Carola Traverso Saibante
DISCOVER THE COOKING COURSES OF SALT & PEPE