Wake up your palate and expand your cooking repertoire with spices you may not have experienced before. In this installment of our series highlighting “sleeper” spices, learn about the unique seasoning capabilities of juniper berries — and get tips for using them to awaken your next cooking endeavor.
What it tastes like: Juniper berries combine a fruity-tangy essence with a forest-fresh, palette-expanding note. The aroma is a bit reminiscent of grapes and evergreen tree resin.
What it looks like: Blackish-purple, plump little berries about the size of wild blueberries.
How to use it: The sharp, clarifying flavor of juniper berries cuts through rich, fatty and intensely flavored meats such as cured pork, sausage and especially game. For optimum flavor, crush or grind juniper berries fresh at time of use. The seeds they contain can be broken in a mortar and pestle.
Here are a few tips about how to use juniper berries:
- Combine with bay leaves, black peppercorns and lemon rind in meat brines.
- Grind with black peppercorns and sprinkle over a platter of choucroute garnie, a dish from northern France consisting of cured meats, tangy sauerkraut and boiled potatoes.
- Grind into cabbage stew.
- Flavor pickling brines.
- Infuse gin and vodka.
Have you ever tried juniper berries? Share what you thought of them in the comments below!
About the author: Tom is communicator of natural living for Frontier, Simply Organic and Aura Cacia brands. In other words, he’s a very imaginative copywriter. A local boy, raised on a farm just down the road from the company’s headquarters in Norway, Tom enjoys drawing, plant hoarding, cooking and living the simple life in the beautiful state of Iowa.