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How to Harvest Juniper Berries

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.

Pick Juniper Berries?

bushes are popular shrubs that produce a bluish colored berry. Not all juniper berries are edible. In fact, some are poisonous. Other varieties of juniper such as the California juniper (Juniperus californica), hardy in USDA zones 8 through 10, yield berries that are not poisonous but are bitter-tasting. Juniper berries ripen on a two- to three-year cycle. In the second year of the cycle, the berries often remain hard and green in color. Avoid harvesting juniper berries too early in the year. Alternately, you can use a berry picker or shake the bush until the berries fall off and land on a collecting tarp, but these methods remove the bitter green berries as well as the ripe blue berries.


Juniper berries should not be eaten by pregnant women, children under the age of 12—or by anyone with breast cancer or kidney disease.

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