The story behind our capers
Caper producers are very serious about their products. And that is no different on the small volcanic island of Pantelleria between Sicily and Tunisia.
La Nicchia was founded in 1949 by Antonio Bonomo and Girolamo Giglio. Today the children are committed to continuing their work and have entrusted the production to Gabriele Lasagni. His passion for researching Pantelleria's raw materials is in keeping with the founders' dedication to the island and its natural resources.
Sixty years later, with their farm, processing plant and laboratory, they are still one of the few with a closed chain in Pantelleria.
According to Gabriele, there are four specific reasons why the capers of Pantelleria are so outstanding:
- Lava soil is giving the capers their peculiar taste
- temperature range between hot days and cold nights are why they are so fragrant
- the century-old tradition of growing and picking capers on the island
- the particular caper plant that only grows on Pantelleria, Spinosa Nocellara
The Capparis spinosa plant in Pantelleria is typical of the Mediterranean and grows mostly on old walls, inside the cracks of rocks and on stony ground, especially in coastal areas. Its height can vary from 30 cm to 50 cm; it has oval dark green leaves and striking pinkish-white flowers with subtle purple tones.
Capers are the flower buds of the plant, harvested while they are still small, firm and green. Farmers work on the same plant every 8 to 10 days, depending on the season. And gather the capers by hand as has been done for centuries. Not to be considered a light work, as the farmers have to lean low over the plants in periods of intense heat.
Once picked, they preserve the capers in Trapani sea salt, which allows retaining their scent and texture for years. From harvesting to the packaging of the capers, the process is done entirely by hand.
These capers have a delicate, slightly floral flavour and a dense, fleshy texture. According to Gabriele Lasagni, the volcanic soil of the island gives them their delicate flavour, and the temperature variation between hot days and cold nights gives them their strong scent. Rinse the salt from the capers in a sieve when you are ready to use them.
These little gold nuggets have the power to remind you of the environment where they are harvested: the south of Italy, the sea, the salt, the beach, the seaweed, the sea breeze and the sun burning on the land. It is also naturally full of antioxidants (beta-carotene and flavonoids), sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and vitamins A, K and C.
A tip we have been given: "Avoid buying capers preserved in vinegar or vinegar-based brine because the ideal and best preservative for capers is salt because the properties of the capers remain unchanged over time. If a more aggressive preservative such as vinegar has been chosen, there must surely be a reason for this, don't you think?"
Would you like to add these artisanal flavour bombs to your pantry? Shop them here!