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Do Capers Go Bad? Here’s What Experts Need You To Know

Capers are great ingredients that offer delightful bursts of flavor that effortlessly elevates most dishes. Anyway, if don't store them properly they will go bad, especially if they're black, brown or have mold.

By Cookist
  • Store capers properly in tightly sealed jars to make them last longer
  • If the jar lid no longer has the safety seal, the capers have probably gone bad
  • Avoid capers that are brown, black, have mold or spots

Capers are small, green un-ripened flower buds of the Capparis spinosa, or Flinders rose, bush. It is a perennial bush that showcases large white and pinkish flowers with rounded leaves when left to bloom.

By the time the buds reach your local grocery's shelf, they would have been dried and preserved. They can be cured in salt or pickled in brine which accounts for their signature salty, briny flavor as the buds themselves do not taste this way.

It is this very flavor that allows capers ro be used as a seasoning or garnish to many dishes.

Capers are sold in a variety of sizes. Nonpareils are the smallest, measuring at about ¼-inch, and they originate from the south of France.

Their flavor, due to the size, can be described as the most concentrated, while the texture remains delicate. This may be why they have a higher price tag in stores.

Other caper varieties, from smallest to largest, include: surfines, capucines, capotes, fines, and grusas, which is the least common.


As the caper increases in size, so does the acidity, so keep that in mind when selecting a caper for your recipe.

Capers left unharvested grow into caperberries. These are about the size of an olive and have a long stem.

Inside are tiny, kiwi-like seeds and a texture much softer and more supple than capers.

Do Capers Go Bad?

Yes, they do go bad. However, since they are kept in vinegar, they last a long time.

The best way to store them in a way that extends their shelf life is to store them in the fridge, properly submerged in the liquid they are packaged in. This way, the capers may last up to a year.

If left unopened and in the pantry, they can keep for twice that long.


How To Tell When Capers Have Gone Bad

Finding out whether capers are bad requires you utilizing standard tests for most canned or jarred items.

If the capers are unopened, but the lid is no longer sitting flat as it's supposed to, has developed a dome, or the safety seal has popped, the capers inside have surely gone past the point of no return.

Capers are usually various shades of dull-ish green, so if you find any brown or black ones, it's time to get rid of them. You should also look out for mold, especially if the capers are stored fully drained or left to peak up out of the liquid.

Any dark green, white, or black spots in the liquid, on the inside of the jar, or on the capers themselves are bad signs.

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