How to Preserve Capers in Salt

Welcome to the delightful world of capers! 🌿 In this guide, we’ll explore how to preserve capers at home in salt. We’ll cover what capers are, when and how to pick them, the step-by-step process of preserving them, and answer some frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in and get those capers ready for your next gourmet dish! Prefer a video? Check out our video on this topic below!

Watch the Video Recipe!

Learn more about what capers are and how they are made in this video:

Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

More video recipes? Subscribe to our YouTube Channel (it’s FREE) and click the bell to get notifications when we release a new video recipe!

Capers are the buds of this flower—before the flower opens.

What Are Capers? (How Capers Are Made)

Capers are the small, green, unopened flower buds of the caper bush (Capparis spinosa), a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region. These tiny buds are packed with a tangy, salty flavor that can elevate a wide range of dishes. Understanding how capers are made involves appreciating their journey from plant to pantry.

freshly picked capers from a caper plant

When and How to Pick Capers

Timing and technique are crucial for harvesting the best capers. Here’s what you need to know:

When to Pick Capers Buds

  • Season: The best time to pick capers is during the flowering season, typically late spring to early summer.
  • Time of Day: Pick capers early in the morning when the buds are closed and firm.

To make gourmet (nonpareil) capers at home, you want to pick the capers when they are small: between 3 and 7 mm. Anything over 7 mm is no longer considered gourmet.

Smaller capers are considered more flavorful and less fibrous, giving them in general a more enjoyable taste.

How to Pick Capers:

  • Tools: Use small scissors or pruning shears to snip the buds. Honestly, the stems are so tender you can also use a clean fingernail to cut the stem just below the bud.
  • Technique: Gently grasp the stem just below the bud and snip it off, being careful not to damage the plant.
  • Selection: Choose buds that are tight and firm, avoiding any that have begun to open or appear wilted.

How to Preserve Capers in Salt

Preserving capers in salt is a simple process that enhances their flavor and prolongs their shelf life. Here’s a step-by-step guide:


  • Freshly picked capers (rinsed and thoroughly dried)
  • Coarse sea salt (non-iodized)
  • Clean and dry glass jar with a lid


  1. Rinse and Dry: Rinse the capers thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris. Pat them dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  2. Layering: In a clean and dry glass jar, add a layer of coarse sea salt at the bottom. Place a layer of capers on top of the salt. Continue layering capers and salt until the jar is full, ensuring the top layer is salt.
  3. Storage: Seal the jar tightly and store it in a cool, dark place. Allow the capers to cure for at least two to three weeks, shaking the jar occasionally to redistribute the salt.
  4. Usage: Before using the capers, rinse off the excess salt under cold water.
layering capers with coarse salt
capers layered with coarse salt

Preserving Capers: Frequently Asked Questions

What dishes can I use capers in?

Capers are versatile and can be used in salads, pasta dishes, sauces, dressings, and as a garnish for meats and fish. They add a tangy, salty burst of flavor. For example…

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca Recipe: Authentic Italian!
A classic pasta dish from Naples, this traditional Spaghetti alla Puttanesca recipe is so satisfying and easy to whip up in minutes.
Check out this recipe
Tuna Mousse Recipe (Italian Tuna Salad)
Tuna Mousse is Italy’s answer to ‘tuna salad.’ It is often found in bars during the aperativo, coffee shops and even bakeries and convenient stores. The tuna mousse is typically served as a sandwich filling or inside rolled-up roasted red peppers.
Check out this recipe
Italian Tuna Salad - Tuna Mousse

How long do salt-cured capers last?

When properly stored in a cool, dark place, salt-cured capers can last six months to a year. Always ensure the capers are covered in salt to maintain their freshness.

Can I use table salt instead of coarse sea salt?

Coarse sea salt is recommended because it draws out moisture more effectively and imparts a better flavor. Table salt can be used in a pinch, but the results may vary. Also, be sure to used non-iodized salt. Iodized salt can impart a metallic taste to the capers.

Are there any alternatives to curing capers in salt?

Yes, capers can also be cured in a vinegar brine, which gives them a slightly different flavor profile. However, salt curing is a traditional method that preserves their natural taste.

Now that you know how to preserve capers at home in salt, you’re ready to add this gourmet ingredient to your culinary creations. Happy preserving and happy cooking! 🌿🧂🍽️

Feel free to share your own caper recipes and experiences in the comments below! 💬✨

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is just one of the Italian dishes that feature capers!

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. This means at no extra cost to you, PIATTO may earn a small commission if you click the links and make a qualifying purchase.

About the author

Classic recipes from Italy and beyond. Traditional Italian Cooking and Mediterranean Diet recipes!

PIATTO™ Recipes bring traditional Italian food recipes to your table with our tested, step-by-step recipes and videos. You'll find the best Italian recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Always tested, always delicious.

Leave a Comment