Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Juniper is the dried berries which come from evergreen, cypress bushes.
Juniper has an unmistakable gin-like flavour that is clean which notes of pine, turpentine and resin.
Juniper’s aroma has hints of gin and turpentine and is pleasant, woody and bittersweet.
Juniper is well known for flavouring gin, liqueurs, cordial and other spirits. It pairs well with game and fatty meats like duck, goose and pork. Juniper is delicious in stuffings, pates, marinades and pickles and can be added to fruit cakes. Juniper combines well with bay, caraway, garlic, marjoram, pepper, rosemary, savory and thyme.
Juniper is a dioecious trees which has both male and female versions. The trees are native to Europe, South West Asia and North America and grow to 2-12m tall. It is said that the further south the berries are grown, the better they taste. The berries are purple-black globes which ripen over a 2-3 year period and are harvested in September or October. Once harvested, the berries are allowed to dry and they turn dark brown.
Juniper berries were used by the Romans to pass off as pepper and were burned to clean the air of pestilence and keep serpents and snakes at bay. Bunches were hung over doors as protection from witches and the plant has a long history of providing refuge to those in need.
Juniper was used to fumigate homes during the bubonic plague. Juniper has antiseptic qualities and has been used through the ages to treat acne, colic, bites, rheumatism and gout.
Facts about Juniper
Juniper is used to speed up the fermentation process of sauerkraut.