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Maurizia de Lorenzo, Salina. Capers and Sott'Olio

Pollara, Isola di Salina, Sicily.
Unlike North African capers, those from Salina are known for the unusually high number of petals with makes them particularly firm and meaty. Their complex, aromatic flavour is drawn from the island's rich, volcanic soil and for several decades capers have been grown as a crop instead of relying on the wild plant. They are harvested by hand, usually by the women of the local villages, who start picking at 4am to ensure that the caper buds don't open and to escape the heat. They are then dried in a cool place to prevent the buds from opening and are sorted into two sizes; small puntine capers and large capperoni. After 2 months in course, Trapani salt the capers are ready to eat. Caperberries are the fruit of the plant and are harvested in the summer. Their flavour is more delicate so they can be used in cooking or eaten with an aperitif. Maurizia de Lorenzo's family has been salting capers in Salina for 3 generations.