Wild Foraged Juniper Berries
Not actually berries, juniper berries are cones with scales so miniature and packed down that you can’t even see them. Most famous for flavoring gin, the flavoring can be very strong and have a slightly turpentine-like finish. The juniper that is grown most often in the wild in central and eastern North America is called eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and is much smaller than that of the common juniper. It’s also sweeter and less harsh, without those “turpentine” gin notes. The berries can be eaten dried, fresh, chopped, or powdered to impart a sharp, peppery flavor. Grind and sprinkle them on meats, make a juniper sugar for blueberry scones, or try chocolate sables with juniper sugar for a treat that’s not too sweet and more on the order of a European-style biscuit cookie. Juniper berries are also a traditional ingredient in making German sauerkraut and they pickle well on their own.
Note: Fresh juniper can have strong antiviral and other medicinal properties. If you are pregnant or under medications consult your physician before consuming.