How can you tell if a juniper berry is edible?
Look for a plant with berries that appear blue on it in this open sunny area. The berries are a little smaller than regular blueberries and grown at the ends of the branches. You will smell a pine aroma that is very strong as you come closer to the juniper plant. They hang in clusters.
Are juniper berries poisonous?
All juniper species grow berries, but some are considered too bitter to eat. But the berries of some species, such as Juniperus sabina, are toxic and consumption of them is inadvisable.
Can you eat a juniper berry?
Juniper berry uses
They're commonly sold dried — either whole or crushed — but can be purchased fresh as well. Keep in mind that there are many types of junipers, and not all are edible. Berries from the Juniperus communis are most frequently used in culinary applications ( 22 ).
Savin Juniper is known to be toxic and potentially deadly poisonous if taken in large enough quantities. It can be difficult to accurately distinguish between different species of cultivated junipers because they have been bred to have unique features not present in their wild forms.
You can harvest the berries green or later in the fall as they turn to dark blue. Juniper berries aren't really berries at all, but are tiny cones with scales so small and packed so tightly that its hard to see them with the naked eye.
What do they taste like? If you've ever tried gin you'll have a fair idea of what juniper berries taste like, although the ones used for cooking are riper. They have a slightly piney flavor with a touch of both fruitiness and pepperiness.
The spicy, aromatic, dark berries of the juniper tree can be used fresh or dried, crushed or whole, to flavour casseroles, marinades and stuffings and complement pork, rabbit, venison, beef and duck. They can also be used in sweet dishes such as fruitcake. Juniper berries also provide the main flavouring for gin.
Juniper berries or extract of the plant has traditionally been used as diuretic, anti-arthritis, anti-diabetes, antiseptic as well as for the treatment of gastrointestinal and autoimmune disorders.
NOTE: The berries of Juniperus sabina and Juniperus oxycedrus are not safe for human consumption and should be avoided. Be certain you only consume berries from a variety you know is safe.
Juniper berries are round cones and you need to remove the seeds from them before you can plant them. Pick them off the juniper by hand or, when collecting cones from taller junipers, shake the tree or shrub vigorously so the cones to fall to the ground.
In North America, there are 13 indigenous species that grow wild, and more that are commercially cultivated varieties, not all of which are edible. If you look closely at a juniper branch, you'll find that they all have tiny scale-like needles. On younger trees, the needles can be sharp and prickly.
How to Prepare Juniper Berries. If you want a strong juniper aroma and flavor to your dish, crushing fresh berries before adding them to a sauce or marinade is the way to go. For a more subtle flavor, you can toast the berries, but be careful not to burn them or they'll taste bitter.
Gin is made by distilling a neutral grain alcohol with juniper berries and other botanicals to make the fragrant spirit we all know and love. The botanicals are infused into the raw spirit to release their flavours. Try our easy compound gin recipe and add a bottle to your drinks cabinet.