Juniperus communis, Cupressaceae
The fruit of the juniper tree, a tree originally from the boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The flowers produce small fleshy berries that are first green. then turn blue-black or violet with a dusty bloom during the second year. The berries have a resinous perfume. a sharp taste and slightly bitter flavor.
Choose: whole berries (more flavor) that are almost black and with no mold. They can be slightly shrivelled.
Avoid: brown or greenish berries.
Juniper berries are used whole or cracked. They are popular in northern Europe. They are used to flavor game, poultry, pork, rabbit, sauerkraut, pâtes, marinades, stuffings, charcuterie (sausages and deli meats), cabbage dishes and stocks.
Juniper berries are used in the making of gin, certain beers, Scandinavian aquavits and certain German schnapps.
Properties: antiseptic, diuretic, tonic, depurative, stomachic and antirheumatic. Juniper berries are said to help combat arthritis, biliary disorders and bladder stones. Do not use the essential oil of juniper without seeking professional advice if pregnant or if one has kidney problems.
The berries, bark and needlelike leaves of the juniper can be used as an infusion.
This page created October 2009
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