During the Renaissance, juniper berries were thought to have medicinal properties, and they were used to cure snake bite, plague and pestilence. Nowadays, juniper berries are primarily used to make gin—or, in small amounts, to enhance the flavor of wild game, but they can be used to complement more traditional meat dishes as well. Juniper berries are easy to harvest, and are ready to be picked near the end of summer when they are moist, and easily squished between your fingers.
Pick juniper berries from the tree carefully. They break easily, and once the oils are released, their flavor degrades quickly.
Dry the juniper berries by spreading them out on a flat surface in a sunny spot until they are shriveled.
Store your harvested juniper berries in an airtight container and use them within one year.
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