Spotlight Spice: Juniper Berries
This week's Spotlight Spice is the Juniper Berry, and its name is a bit of a misnomer. Juniper Berries are actually the seed cones produced by junipers. Their round shape purple-black color when ripe make them resemble all sorts of common berries, which is how they got their name.
We love Juniper Berries for adding an earthy and piney, slightly citrusy flavor to culinary creations; however, unless you're an expert forager, we recommend purchasing Juniper Berries for culinary purposes since not all varieties of the conifer seed are edible.
Using Juniper Berries in cooking might seem overwhelming, but most applications are actually pretty simple. Read on for tips in using them in a variety of culinary applications.
Making Gin: You can't make gin without Juniper Berries. Gin gets is unmistakable favor from its botanicals, and these berries are the star of the show. It's actually super easy to make gin at home. You'll need a jar, high-quality vodka, Juniper Berries, and other spices and botanicals (check out this DIY gin recipe from Serious Eats as a starting point).
Flavoring Meat and Game: The strong flavor of Juniper Berries pairs wonderfully with wild game, lamb, duck, and pork - they're a key ingredient in our Wild Game Rub. Try crushing them and combining with Garlic or Ginger to rub meat prior to cooking, or add them to your marinades (they're particularly nice with our Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar).
Sprucing up (or should we say "Juniper-ing Up") Sauces: Juniper Berries are a great secret ingredient for your next cranberry sauce, gravy, or reduction, and will infuse a piney and slightly citrusy flavor. Crush up a few berries using a mortar and pestle and add them to your sauce.
Pickling Veggies: Adding a few whole Juniper Berries to your pickle brine will add a unique, earthy flavor to your pickled veggies. Just toss them in with our Pickling Spices when you make your brine, add your veggies, and let them pickle.