Capers, the preserved bud of the caper plant, is an essential part of Mediterranean cooking. These capers are biologically cultivated on Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands. Salina is well-known for its flavorful capers, the result of exceptionally fertile soil and favorable climates. The word for caper comes from the Arabic word kabur. There is a strong association between the caper plant and oceans and seas due to the proximity of the plant to these areas. The caper plant is said to be native to the Mediterranean basin, but its range actually stretches from the Atlantic coasts of the Canary Islands, Morocco to the Black Sea, to Crimea and Armenia, and eastward to the Caspian Sea and into Iran.
It makes sense that capers are an integral element of Mediterranean cuisine. Their sharp tangy bite often accent fish, pizza, salads and sauces. To bring about the complex flavors of the caper they must be cured. They are first dried in the sun and then packed under layers of salt, vinegar, wine or salt brine. During this process the natural mustard oil intensifies and the capers develop their characteristic piquant flavor. Many culinary authorities prize capers packed under layers of salt, the flavor being brighter and more intense. Occasionally one can also find the cured or pickled young sprouts, or leaves of the caper bush also used as a condiment.