Juniper Berries

Juniper Berries
Juniper Berries

The female seed cone produced by various juniper species is known as a juniper berry. It is a cone with abnormally fleshy and fused scales that gives it a berry-like look. The cones of a few species, particularly Juniperus communis, are used as a spice, especially in European cuisine, and gives gin its characteristic flavour. Juniper berries, along with spruce buds, are the only spices originating from conifers.

Pinene dominates the flavour profile of immature, green berries; as they grow, this piney, resinous backdrop is joined by "green-fresh" and citrus notes, according to Harold McGee. Because the berries' exterior scales are very flavourless, they are almost always softly crushed before being used as a spice. They're used both fresh and dried, but their flavour and odour are at their peak right after harvest, then fade as drying and storage progress.

Juniper Berries
Juniper Berries

You might wish to try juniper in game dishes, which is one of the spice's most popular applications. In a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine, they're served with prunes atop roast duck, which seems like a wonderful balance. Jamie Oliver uses venison to simmer the berries, like the Navajo and British did in the past.


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