Pantelleria’s caper: the flower growing on lava

Salt-packed capers from the island of Pantelleria are regarded world-wide as some of the very best in the world

Pantelleria’s capers are unique in the world and are known for their intense aroma, caused by a protein present in the island’s volcanic soil. They are dark green in color, rich in vitamins and minerals, have a very low fat content and great antioxidant properties. They are usually picked, rigorously by hand, from May until the end of October and they must end their maturation process under salt, otherwise they’d be too bitter to be consumed 

 

Capers are the bud of a flowering plant, capparis spinosa

They are usually placed in containers, covered with coarse sea salt and stirred daily for about 10 days, so that all their excess water is lost. They can be preserved for years, without loosing any of their nutritional characteristics.They need to be rinsed before being used 

 

Capers in sea salt from a small island off Sicily, Pantelleria

Since 1880, capers have been intensively cultivated in Pantelleria, with the aim to increase their spontaneous presence on the island. Here, capers are cultivated on sun exposed terracing, irrigated with rain water usually collected in the dammusi, containers made in lava stone 

Between May and September caper bushes begin to flower and the buds become what we know as capers

For the Greeks and the Romans, Pantelleria capers were an aphrodisiac fruit. They remained very popular in recipes up to the 17th century and today they are a fundamental ingredient of Sicilian cuisine. Among the most famous recipes containing capers we have caponata, spaghetti alla puttanesca and pantesca salad. Because of their uniqueness, Pantelleria capers have been an IGP product since 1993. 

 

I capperi di Pantelleria sono unici al mondo e si distinguono per il loro intenso profumo dovuto ad una proteina presente nel terreno vulcanico dell'isola, si presentano di colore verde scuro ricchi di vitamine, sali minerali con proprietà antiossidanti e poveri di grassi. 

Si raccolgono da maggio al 31 ottobre rigorosamente a mano e devono maturare sotto sale per venire consumati altrimenti sarebbero amari e poco gradevoli. 

Vengono posti in recipienti coperti di sale marino grosso e mescolati quotidianamente per circa dieci giorni al fine di fare perdere l'acqua di vegetazione. Si conservano perfettamente anche per anni senza perdere le loro caratteristiche organolettiche. Prima di consumarli vanno risciacquati. 

La loro crescita spontanea nell'isola e' stata affiancata fin dal 1880 dalla coltivazione intensiva che avviene in terrazzamenti o muri a secco nei terreni esposti al sole, cui l'acqua piovana utilizzata per l'irrigazione, viene raccolta nei dammusi fabbricati in pietra lavica. 

Per i greci e i romani erano un frutto afrodisiaco, popolari nelle ricette del 1600 e oggi ingrediente fondamentale della cucina siciliana. 

Tra le ricette più conosciute in cui li ritroviamo ci sono la caponata gli spaghetti alla puttanesca e l'insalata pantesca. 

Per questa loro unicità sono prodotto IGP dal 1993. 

 

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