Nature and Health
The Healing Properties of Capers
By Ralph Kratzer
Capers (“Gabbar” in Cypriot Turkish) have been known for their useful characteristics for a long time and their popularity is constantly increasing.
The Latin name of the shrub is “Capparis spinosa” and it has been known for its edible bud and fruit. Caper buds or berries have various culinary and medical uses and the perennial shrub grows wild in walls and rocky coastal areas. It bears rounded, fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish flowers, but it’s probably not the kind of plant you would like to have in your garden. It looks like weed and has no aesthetic beauty, but it is highly resilient. The Caper is native to the Mediterranean region and is especially abundant in Anatolia, eastern Black Sea coast, south-eastern Turkey and Cyprus.
Hundreds of years ago a man called Saint Celebi said about the Caper: Despite the sandy grounds and the dry conditions, there is a plant named “gebre” here, used by the locals to make pickles. They pick the buds and fruit, pickle them in vinegar and oil, producing a highly beneficial dish.
According to research conducted in Israel, capers are effective in the treatment of diabetes. Other research has shown their positive cosmetic effect against irritations of the skin and bristly hair. In European countries capers are said to have a carminative, constipation-relieving, diuretic and aphrodisiac effect. In Spain it is used in the treatment of strangury, inflammation and poisonings. In India the sprouts, roots and seeds are used to produce an analgesic medicine. In addition, various researches have shown that “rutin”, a powerful antioxidant contained in the buds, acts against bleedings in the capillary veins. Furthermore, it is said to heal paralysis, rheumatism, anaemia, enlargement of the spleen and as well to benefit the functioning of the liver.
For culinary uses the Caper buds are pickled in vinegar to produce a delicious dish, often used as a seasoning or garnish. Especially in Cyprus these pickles are a common ingredient in many local dishes.
Naturally, such a healthy and delicious product with the previously named diversity of usage is worth a fortune. The buds and other parts of the shrub are used for medical products, in the food industry and for cosmetics. For many countries growing and exporting Caper products it is a great source of income. Main importing countries are the USA, Germany, Norway, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, UK, Australia and Canada. For example Spain, both growing and processing capers, is making millions of Dollars in this business.
If you have ever tasted this small green delicacy, which is used as an ingredient in a great variety of Mediterranean dishes, you will understand why…