Juniper is a typical autumn spice
Warm, spicy, woody, and a little resinous. That’s why juniper berries go well in autumn dishes.
It’s a shrub with needle-shaped leaves, widespread throughout Europe and North America
And can be found at altitudes up to 2500 m above sea level. In some areas, the shrub can even grow to tree size. It belongs to the cypress family.
The blue-purple juniper berries are used for cooking
More precisely, they are cones that look like berries.
You should use them rather sparingly because they are so strong. The berries have a slightly bitter, woody smell and taste and are spicy, but also refreshing.
They are cooked as whole berries or crushed
They need some cooking time to release their full flavor. If you add them as whole berries, the advantage is that you can remove them after cooking.
Not everyone likes the strong taste they release when you bite on them.
Juniper berries are mainly used in hearty, strong dishes
They are typical with sauerkraut and red cabbage, but they are also used in sausages, for game, and for stews. Sometimes they are also found in pickled vegetables.
Also, various digestives are made from them and juniper gives flavor to gin.
Juniper berries can also flavor sweets. Some time ago I made a prune jam with juniper. It tasted great with cheese!
Juniper also gives a special flavor to fruit cooked in red wine.
Juniper berries can be well combined with other strong spices. For example, with pepper, bay leaves, or caraway
The wood of juniper trees also has an intense smell. In Sardinia, I was in a house with a juniper roof. It smelled wonderfully and intense.