I read in several (non scientific) sources that smaller capers have a more "refined taste". I was not able to find an explanation what this "refined taste" is supposed to be. In supermarkets the smaller ones are more expensive.

Is there really a reason to prefer the smaller ones or is it just that: Smaller carps are lighter -> lower harvest yield by weight -> higher price to compensate -> perceived higher value/taste by customer?

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    Your question is very difficult to answer. You seem to think that there is a difference between some kind of "pure" taste and perceived taste - this is not so, there is only perceived taste, and it is influenced by all information available to the brain, not only the chemical signals arriving through the taste buds, but also knowledge about the price and the taster's expectations. Assuming that you are asking "is there a difference in taste beside the price/expectation effects", the experience of cooks won't be relevant, because they are subject to the price and expectation. So, one would...
    – rumtscho
    Sep 2, 2019 at 15:34
  • ... need to find a report of a controlled experiment where people unaware of the price of capers are fed small and large capers which are somehow made "equal" in all other aspects, or a blind taste study. Such studies are doable, but finding published results might be difficult, since the most likely people to do them are food technologists employed by caper manufacturers. Also, if the study finds that there is no difference, it doesn't mean that you won't perceive some difference once you know the price of the capers you are eating.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 2, 2019 at 15:38
  • Ah, and in the end, if somebody has found out that there is a difference, there is no way to find which one should taste better to you personally. It is literally a matter of taste.
    – rumtscho
    Sep 2, 2019 at 15:40
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    I never asked which is better but whether there is even a difference. Sep 2, 2019 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


I hadn't really thought about this until I saw your question. I don't use capers all that often, so I usually end up with the smaller ones as that's what I usually find at the market.

Interestingly enough, most of the sites I looked at said that said that there wasn't any difference and that it was a myth that seemed to perpetuate the idea that the smaller capers had a better taste. And your idea about price could also be a factor.

But then I ran across this from The Splendid Table:

SS: What about sizes? Should we be going for the smaller ones or the bigger ones?

DR: On the Internet, almost everybody says, "Get the smaller ones. They are better." But that is one of those food myths that just won't go away. The only reason that you hear it is because that's what everybody has always said, and nobody has really taken the trouble to really research it.

When I was in Pantelleria I kept asking, "What size do I want?" Everybody I spoke to -- from producers and chefs to local food writers -- all said the big ones are much more flavorful.

They usually come in three sizes: small, medium and large. The downside with the larger ones is these are closer to springing open and becoming flowers. They are not quite as tight in texture, they're not quite as firm, they have a flower inside them waiting to break out. However, they have developed to the most gorgeous flavor.

So, size does make a difference in the taste. As far as what is better, I would say it's a matter of personal preference.

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    Per Serious Eats: "That said, another way to consider size is based on the caper's intended function. Small capers are the firmest and thus best suited to play a garnishing or finishing role, while the largest—soft, but more flavorful—work best in sauces and stews."
    – FuzzyChef
    Sep 2, 2019 at 18:51

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