Salty and tangy, capers can add a pop to your dish. But be sure to know the difference between regular and "non-pareil" capers, because using one instead of the other might ruin a dish.
Credit: Photo: Mel Melcon / Getty

In the Cooking Light world, we love capers. They introduce an acidic, salty, and briny punch to a dish, which is a great way to add complexity to your cooking. The Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite Cooking Light recipes that uses capers.

You might assume that I would know a lot about capers because I love to cook with them so much. You would also think that I knew what the phrase, “Non-Pareil” meant. I have seen it for years, prominently displayed on the front of each jar of capers and also, curiously absent from other bottles of capers. I finally got tired of just shrugging my shoulders on the matter and vowed to look it up. I passed the question out to my fellow Test Kitchen peers with no avail.

I finally turned to my trusted friend, the internet. The bottom line is that capers are sold by size. The smaller the caper, the more delicate in texture and flavor it is. The smallest of capers, which measures under 7mm, is considered “non-pareil” (pronounced \,nän-pə-ˈrel\). Translated from French, “has no equal.”

So there you go, non-pareil capers are the best for flavor and texture. If the jar does not say “non-pareil,” your capers will be a little tougher, larger, and not as delicate.