How to Eat Juniper Berry

Overview

A member of the cypress family, junipers (genus Juniperus) produce an unusual cone that ends up looking like a fruit; this "fruit" is known as a juniper berry. Juniper berries start off green, but ripen to a blue-black color. Ripening can take up to three years. These ripe berries are bitter and astringent, so juniper berries aren't eaten off the tree; rather, they're added to recipes during cooking. Trees and shrubs are usually male or female, so you need more than one to get a crop of berries. Junipers are evergreens.

In Liquids

Step 1

Prepare your marinade or sauce as you normally would, but replace each bay leaf with four berries. Since venison, boar, pork, duck and goose take well to juniper, marinades and sauces intended for these meats are a natural fit for the berry.

Step 2

Add six berries per pound of meat to the water for boiled ham. You might increase that to about six berries per half-pound of meat if you enjoy the taste.

Step 3

Add three to four berries to the water for boiled whole cabbage.

For Tea

Step 1

Bring a cup of water to a boil.

Step 2

Crush about 12 berries with the flat of a knife blade.

Step 3

Take the water off the heat, and add the berries.

Step 4

Steep 10 minutes.

Step 5

Strain the water into the tea cup or mug.

Step 6

Add honey to taste.

Tips and Warnings

  • Only eat juniper if you are healthy. Those with compromised kidneys especially should not eat juniper berries since they have a strong diuretic property. Pregnant women and young children should also avoid the berries, which are still being studied for their benefits and adverse effects. If you have any preexisting conditions, consult your doctor before consuming juniper.

Things You'll Need

  • Dried juniper berries
  • Marinade or sauce recipe that would normally contain bay leaf
  • Ham
  • Cabbage
  • Knife
  • Strainer
  • Tea cup or mug
  • Honey

References

  • "The Herb Book"; Arabella Boxer, Phillipa Back; 1980
  • A Pinch of...: All About Juniper Berries
  • Chow: Juniper Berry

Who Can Help

  • National Kidney Foundation: Herbal Supplements in Chronic Kidney Disease
  • Henriette's Herbal Homepage: Picking Juniper Berries
Keywords: juniper, juniper berries, eating juniper berries

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.