Juniper Berries are one of those interesting ingredients that I am fascinated by. Named and known as a berry, it is really the edible fruit of a shrub. It grows from the African Tropics to the Arctic and every place in between. With its piney, citrus, and antiseptic taste it is used as the defining taste in gin. It is used to freshen the taste of game dishes such as venison and duck, in brining liquids for turkey and chicken as well as in German sauerkraut. It is a prominent ingredient in Scandinavian cooking especially in dishes where fish is being cured. Juniper Berries should be ground or crushed right before using. They have natural antibacterial, antiviral, diuretic, and antiseptic properties making their health benefits numerous. Juniper tea is the most general way of deriving its health benefits, but it also comes in supplement form. It is one of those ingredients that should not be used in any regularity for any more than six weeks. Me, I just love using it in brines, when I am cooking salmon, or when I am doing a slow cooked pork shoulder or with duck breasts in a port wine sauce. The wonderful thing is that you only need a few to bring the flavor to any dish.
Look for my recipe “Cured Salmon With Juniper Berries” in “The Healing Kitchen” category.