Harvesting Juniper Berries: Flavoring food

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Harvesting Juniper Berries

By SongofJoy
November 28, 2012

Edible common Juniper berries (Juniperus communis) turn from green to dark blue when ripe and to black when dried. To dry them, pick only ripe blue berries and allow to dry. Crush the dried berries well just before using; flavor will decline quickly when exposed to air. Three or four berries should flavor most dishes without being overpowering. Pregnant women and those with kidney problems should avoid Juniper berries due to their diuretic qualities.

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Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Nov 27, 2012 7:24 PM CST

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And I thought they were only for gin. How do you use them Tee and are all juniper berries edible? Great idea and beautiful photo too!
Evan
Name: Renée
Northern KY
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KyWoods
Nov 27, 2012 8:10 PM CST
I agree What foods are they used in?
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Nov 28, 2012 5:38 AM CST
Well, yes, gin. Green Grin! No, not all juniper berries are edible ... this is the common juniper only, Juniperus communis, the one often found in people's yards in our neck of the woods.

Around here, they are used with highly flavored meats, venison, and other wild game, etc. They are also used in many German and European dishes.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Nov 28, 2012 10:24 AM CST
We have one in our front yard. It is lovely to watch the birds feed on the berries when the weather turns cold.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Nov 28, 2012 11:26 AM CST
I agree
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Nov 28, 2012 10:52 PM CST
There's a LOT of Ashe Juniper berries this year! Some are eaten by wildlife, but most are just lying there where they drop. Strangely enough, the Red Admiral butterflies have taken an interest in them lately. They like fruit. But the drought is so bad lately that the berries dry up super fast. So I'm putting out some old banana for them now.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Nov 29, 2012 4:09 AM CST
Good to know that about the berries and the bfs, Linda. I have a little feeder type thing for the bfs but have never used it as I haven't had to yet. I think putting out fruit like that is a great idea.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Oct 16, 2013 6:19 AM CST
What a gorgeous picture! I knew birds ate the berries, but didn't know humans could.

What kind of flavor do they have? I am imagining something spicy, but maybe not.
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Oct 16, 2013 11:56 AM CST
Let me go get one and see. Whistling
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Oct 17, 2013 11:03 AM CST
They have a fairly strong flavor, sort of bittersweet. The berries themselves are often removed from dishes to just leave the flavor as they can be too strong for some people.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Oct 17, 2013 2:52 PM CST
Good information Tee. I'm not sure how good our particular type of Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) is for this use?
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Oct 17, 2013 3:46 PM CST
Thanks, Tee. I can't seem to picture a bittersweet flavor in a dish, but it is something I would certainly like to try.
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
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CDsSister
Oct 17, 2013 4:07 PM CST

I have heard of it being used with venison and elk stews.

Here is a link to one recipe
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/game-recipes/venison-juni...
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
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valleylynn
Oct 17, 2013 6:48 PM CST
The Native American tribes in Oregon used it for seasoning game meats.

Yum, that really sounds delicious Marilyn.
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
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CDsSister
Oct 17, 2013 8:29 PM CST

Do you have any game meat in the freezer, I don't Smiling

Try it and let us know how it tastes.
Name: Vickie
Elberfeld, Indiana, USA (Zone 6b)
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blue23rose
Oct 18, 2013 4:52 AM CST
That would be my problem too. Not into game meat, unless it is deer salami... yum!

That recipe looks really good and it says you can use beef with the juniper berries too. I like the way the instructions were written with a little history mixed in. Poked around on the website a little and there is a lot of interesting foods and recipes there.
Vickie
May all your weeds be wildflowers. ~Author Unknown
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
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SongofJoy
Oct 18, 2013 5:00 AM CST
People hunt deer here a lot but we're not hunters. However, the beef recipe sounds interesting. Might have to try that sometime.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Marilyn
Greenwood Village, CO (Zone 5b)
Garden today. Clean next week.
Garden Procrastinator Region: Colorado Heucheras Region: Southwest Gardening Container Gardener Enjoys or suffers cold winters
Sempervivums Annuals Foliage Fan Herbs Garden Ideas: Level 2
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CDsSister
Oct 18, 2013 12:51 PM CST

Here is another interesting site: http://arcticrose.wordpress.com/2008/03/19/juniper-berries-t...

Also has recipes.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
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valleylynn
Oct 18, 2013 6:00 PM CST
I'll have to look Marilyn. I think we used our last package of elk. Sad

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