If you love peppercorns in general, you will love its many versions. Green peppercorns can give you a slightly spicy taste that makes you forget hot chili peppers. The unripe variety of peppercorns is often mistaken for capers due to the obvious physical similarities.
The close resemblance between green peppercorns and capers can be misleading for many people. It can also imply that they are ideal substitutes. However, this is only partially true.
If you want to know more about their differences, keep reading this comparison. We will shed light on their basic characteristics and reliable distinctions.
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What are Green Peppercorns?
Green peppercorns are what their name says. They are green, unlike the ripe versions, which could be either red or white. Green peppercorns work well with many other foods, including meat, fish, and veggies.
You can create a tasty green peppercorn sauce that can take any chicken recipe to a new level. This high adaptability to various dishes comes from the green peppercorn’s fresh and slightly spicy taste and refreshing aroma.
In addition to using green peppercorns in cooked dishes, you can use them in various salads. As green peppercorns are not ripe, they can’t stay on the shelf long. This is why you often find them frozen or preserved in brine.
Green peppercorns that have been brined can be stored for up to 30 months. Aside from adding green peppercorns, brining enhances the flavor.
What are Capers?
Capers are similar to green peppercorns in terms of immaturity. Capers are unripe flower buds that are taken from a caper bush. This bush is evergreen and perennial. The caper bush is commonly grown in Mediterranean countries.
Capers are highly prized for their tangy and earthy taste. They are essential for cooking various dishes, particularly chicken piccata.
Despite being flowers, capers are not colorful. They are always green. Capers are primarily used to make delicious dressings and garnish chicken and fish dishes. In a way, the taste of capers can remind you of green olives.
Capers are not expected to live for long without persisting. Brining is one of the best ways to preserve capers, but it makes their salty flavor more intense. The green buds you know as capers are round, like very tiny balls.
Usually, the largest capers won’t exceed 15 mm in width. However, there are wide varieties that are way smaller.
What are the Differences between Green Peppercorns and Capers?
Despite the obvious similarities in their appearance and size, green peppercorns and capers are not identical. Also, both of them were taken from the original plant before ripening. Still, they are not the perfect substitutes for each other.
Green peppercorns and capers are not grown in the same areas. Peppercorn and all its varieties are native to Southeast Asia. Capers, on the other hand, originates in the Mediterranean area. They are more commonly found in Morocco and Spain.
2. Plant family
Another difference between these similar garnish items is their families. Green peppercorns descend from the Piperaceae family. Capers, on the other hand, originate from the Capparaceae family.
Green peppercorns and capers do not share the same classification. Green peppercorns fall into the category of fruit, whereas capers are categorized as flowers or, more accurately, flower buds.
The taste of green peppercorns and capers is different. You can identify each of them based on their tastes. Green peppercorns do not have a bitter or tangy taste but can impart a mild and desirable spicy flavor. However, when they are brined, they gain some moderate saltiness.
Capers, on the other hand, have an obvious bitter taste. Brined capers can have a reduced bitterness and a desirable tanginess. So generally, green peppercorns are sought for their moderate spiciness, while capers are sought after for their tanginess.
Despite the common misconception, green peppercorns and capers are not direct substitutes for each other. If you fail to find green peppercorns and want a similar taste, you should look for the black version of peppercorns. These are the best substitutes for green ones.
Green olives, on the other hand, can substitute for capers. They have similar tanginess, but capers have a sharper flavor and more pungency.
Both items can be used to add more flavors to chicken, meat, fish, and even kinds of pasta. However, some dishes taste their best when using capers, and others taste perfectly with green peppercorns.
As a general rule of thumb, Italian and the vast majority of Mediterranean dishes will taste better with capers than green peppercorns. Spaghetti Bolognese, Smoked salmon, and Chicken piccata are just a few examples of dishes that work well with capers.
On the other hand, green peppercorns work best with Asian recipes such as stir-fries and curries.
7. Preservation methods
Indeed, green peppercorns and capers do not last long in their fresh condition. This is why it is important to preserve or buy them when they are well preserved. Although green peppercorns and capers are preserved in brine, they do not share any further methods.
For instance, you can find frozen or freeze-dried green peppercorns but can’t find the same variety of capers.
Green Peppercorns vs. Capers: are they the same?
Green peppercorns and Capers are not the same. Both of them look the same and have similar textures, but they taste differently.
Additionally, they come from different plant families and grow in different parts of the world. There is no need to mention green peppercorns are fruits, whereas capers are flowers.
Another core difference between green peppercorns and capers is their application in the kitchen. The former is a better fit for Asian dishes, while the latter makes perfect Mediterranean dishes.
Lastly, both are brined to enjoy a longer shelf life, but green peppercorns are the only one of them that can be freeze-dried.