Home grown capers

Did you know that, until now, all capers have been imported into Australia?

Well they've bitten the bullet down in South Australia and produced a  new range of Australian capers grown by the aptly named, Australian Caper Company.

Grower Jonathon Trewartha describes his capers as environmentally sustainable, hand picked fresh, firm, fruity, organic and packed full of antioxidants and natural health benefits.

They are grown with minimal water on the dry, rocky slopes of the Murray River.  They pick the unopened buds of the caper plant at first light during the hottest months of the year. Any they miss at the bud stage then get picked as berries!

The flavour is a little different from the imported caperberries I've tried.  A slight sweetness  is an interesting contrast to the crunchy saltiness.

The Australian Caper Company is seeking growers who want to diversify their income stream, have 1 to 3ML of water, 1 to 3 hectares and existing infrastructure.

Find these capers at Black Pearl Epicure, 36 Baxter Street, Fortitude Valley

Maggie Beer, who was the inspiration behind Jonathon Trewartha's The Australian Caper Company, and his determination to establish an Australian caper growing industry, created this recipe to showcase them.
I find it hard to resist any recipe that uses kipfler potatoes and this one from Maggie also includes preserved lemons, pancetta and capers - a combo that's hard to beat.

Maggie's Warm potato salad with preserved lemon, pancetta and capers.
serves 4
500g waxy potatoes (such as kipflers)
1 half preserved lemon
4 long thin slices of pancetta
50ml extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Australian capers (rinsed or not)
1 tablespoon freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 220 Celsius. Remove the pulp from the preserved lemon and cut the rind into long strips.Wash and dry the potatoes thoroughly, then cut them in half lengthwise. Toss immediately with the lemon rind, pancetta, olive oil and pepper in a large, shallow, heavy-based baking dish and roast for 20-35 minutes. The potatoes should caramelise and the pancetta become deliciously crisp. Remove the baking dish from the oven and shake to loosen the contents. Add the capers and parsley and taste to check whether it needs extra seasoning. Serve immediately.