Ever wonder how to capture a caper? Below are instructions for picking and preserving capers. ..or just to help the reader find a use for empty mustard jars.
1) First, since the sun is hot in this part of France, don a sturdy straw hat with a wide brim.
2) Find an empty glass jar – preferably one that you’ve emptied after making several batches of zingy homemade vinaigrette.
3) Head out your front door. Say hello to the dogs lolling in the shade, resting up for an evening of sheep herding in the nearby fields. Stop briefly to appreciate the music of the cicadas and continue on your way.
4) At the end of the road, turn right, then immediately left and enter the olive grove. Walk a few paces through the welcome shadows cast by the silvery branches before stopping again. Place a hand on the brim of your straw hat, tilting it up ever so slightly, and look up ahead for a stone wall. There should be a large cluster of leaves fanning outwards from the rocks and dappled by sunlight. The flowers already in bloom are purple with tufts of silky stamens. The unopened buds are capers.
5) Survey the buds, looking for the daintiest ones and start picking. Be careful to avoid the nearly invisible thorns that hide on the stems. Nip the capers right below the bud, leaving any stem behind.
6) Try not, at any point, to think “This is all I’ve collected? How the heck are there jars and jars of these little devils lining the grocery store shelves back at home?” Just give into the fact that you are going to be using these for your own salad or your own slab of salmon and remember that you don’t have to compete with industrial scale agriculture.
7) Walk back the way you came and return to the cool stone house. Remove your hat and hang it back up on the hook from whence it came. Climb the steps to the kitchen. Rinse the capers in a colander and put them back in the glass jar. Cover the capers with a mixture made of half white wine vinegar and half water . Place in the fridge for one week.
8) Make a tomato and caper salad after returning from a hot day at the beach (see previous entry for recipe).