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5 Easy Juniper Berry Recipes to Try Today

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Winter is definitely the time to be thinking about juniper berry recipes!

Juniper berries (actually a cone, not a berry) are a spice used in many cuisines around the world for centuries. They have found their way into European, Asian, and Middle Eastern recipes, as well as American food. They have a slightly bitter taste, but they are very versatile in the kitchen.

I have used juniper berries on wild game such as venison, as well as a flavoring for vegetables and even desserts. The flavor is best described as mildly resinous with a tang of citrus and pine. The aroma is similar to gin!

If you’ve never cooked with juniper berries before, they should be handled with care, since their flavor is so intense that it can easily overwhelm a dish if too many are used. For most households, mine included, a cupful will last all year. 

Below are a few of my favorite juniper berry recipes that I use regularly and have adapted from my two favorite wild cuisine books: Forage, Harvest, Feast — A Wild-Inspired Harvest by Marie Viljoe and The Forager’s Pantry — Cooking With Wild Edibles by Ellen Zachos. If you’re into wild foods’ cuisine, then I couldn’t recommend these two books more.

I especially love that the emphasis is on plants that can be sustainably harvested or which have the potential for commercial growing, such as lamb’s quarters, service berries, and nettles. Also highlighted is how we can easily transform traditional weeds and invasive plants into tempting dishes. How soul-satisfying to turn the chore of weeding out destructive garlic mustard and pesky purslane into harvesting for pesto or as a replacement for spinach or other traditionally prepared greens.

juniper berry recipes

Collecting and Preparing

If you’re preparing to try some of these juniper berry recipes, I recommend that you taste the berries before you pick them to ensure that they are edible. As a general rule, juniper berries and other junipers should have a pleasant resinous taste and a hint of sweetness when ripe. 

Gather ripe berries from late fall through winter and early spring. Where I live in the Northeast, I find the ripeness and taste to be at their best in late winter. 

If you’d like to save your berries for later, simply put them in a large jar. They’ll keep their flavor for at least a year! I use a spice grinder to grind juniper berries, wiping the blades immediately after, as the resin can gum up them in no time. 

Want to learn more about Juniper Berries and their benefits and medicinal uses? Take a look at this article Incredible Juniper Berries: Identification, Uses & Benefits.

Juniper Berry Recipes

juniper sugar- juniper berry recipes

1) Juniper Sugar

Integrating freshly gathered juniper berries into your culinary repertoire opens up a whole new dimension of juniper berry recipes, each with a unique twist that speaks of the forest’s untamed essence. By crafting a versatile juniper sugar, you imbue a hint of woodsy tang into sweet creations, transforming ordinary baked goods into extraordinary treats that resonate with the notes of the wilderness. 

This aromatic sugar can also be the secret touch in your spice rubs, adding complexity and a subtle, fruity sharpness that complements the rich flavors of game meats beautifully. With your juniper supply tucked away in the freezer, rest assured that this vibrant, pine-like taste will enliven your dishes season after season.(adapted from Forage, Harvest, Feast  – A wild Inspired Cuisine by Marie Viljoen).

Ingredients

  1. Grind the juniper berries in a spice grinder until very fine (a mortar and pestle can be used).
  2. Mix the pulverized berries (they will be moist…that’s okay) thoroughly with the sugar.
  3. Store in a container to use immediately, or freeze for later use and to keep fresh. 
juniper berry recipes - chai masala

2) Chai Masala

I am a huge tea drinker and absolutely adore Masala chai tea. Typically, it’s a spiced Indian tea, that includes spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black tea, and milk. But the word masala translates to mixture or blend of spices, so there’s no reason not to create your own version. Here is my version of a homegrown and foraged masala chai tea. 

This juniper berry recipe makes 1 cup of wild masala chai tea. I like to premix this spice blend to have on hand when the mood strikes. Simply store in a sealed jar for future use. Enjoy! 

Adapted from The Forager’s Pantry – Cooking With Wild Edibles by Ellen Zachos

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon spicebush berries
  • 1/4 teaspoon spruce tips 
  • 1/4 teaspoon spruce tips or other edible evergreens
  • 2 dried juniper berries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon loose leaf black tea or 1 bag unflavored black tea
  • Honey, to taste
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  1. Combine the spicesand water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the stove and add the tea. If using a tea bag, cut it open and dump the leaves into the hot water. Stir to combine, cover, and let steep for 2 minutes.
  3. Add milk and honey. Return to a boil. Remove from heat and strain into a mug.
juniper berry recipes - juniper icing
Juniper berry recipes

3) Juniper Berry Icing

With its distinctive coniferous flavor, this juniper berry-infused icing brings an untamed twist to your favorite treats. Imagine it draped over a warm, spicy gingerbread loaf or lending its woodsy charm to the top of a cinnamon-laced carrot cake. It’s a simple yet profound way to weave the essence of the forest into your baking, elevating it from ordinary to extraordinary. In the realm of juniper berry recipes, this icing is a versatile gem, adaptable and sure to become a cherished staple in your culinary repertoire. (adapted from The Forager’s Pantry – Cooking With Wild Edibles by Ellen Zachos)

Ingredients

  1. Use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush the juniper berries, but don’t get too carried away.  You don’t want to pulverize them, just expose more surface area to better infuse the flavor into the cream. 
  2. Combine the crushed berries and half-and-half in a saucepan and heat, continually stirring to avoid scorching.
  3. Remove the liquid from the heat when bubbles start to form around the edges of the pan.
  4. Allow to steep and cool on the counter to room temperature, then move to the fridge to continue steeping for 4-5 hours. 
  5. Strain the berries out. 
  6. Add the confectioner’s sugar to a bowl, then stir in the half-and-half, little by little until the icing reaches the right consistency.
  7. Transfer the icing to a squeeze bottle, pastry bag, or ziplock baggie with the corner snipped off.  Drizzle the icing onto your baked good. 
juniper
Juniper berry recipes

4) Juniper Syrup

Sweet and resinous, juniper syrup really is an embodiment of the forest in a bottle. The way it marries the piney tartness of juniper berries with just the right touch of sweetness is pure alchemy. I find that it not only elevates drinks but brings a surprising depth to marinades and glazes. 

There’s something almost magical about how it enhances the natural flavors of foods, particularly when paired with the earthiness of root vegetables or the succulence of a slow-cooked roast. Each drop carries the whispers of ancient woods and open glades, and it’s a joy to introduce this essence of the wild into everyday cuisine. It’s like weaving a thread of the untamed into the tapestry of our domesticated lives. I use it in mixed drinks and mocktails.  (adapted from Forage, Harvest, Feast  — A wild Inspired Cuisine by Marie Viljoe

Ingredients

  1. Grind the juniper berries a little at a time (a couple of tablespoons at a time). Be sure to wipe your grinder blades immediately afterward. 
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar; stir well until all of the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the ground juniper berries and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool completely.
  4. Cover and allow the mixture to infuse for 12 hours or overnight.
  5. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and then again through cheesecloth to remove any fine particles.
  6. Pour into clean glass bottles and store in the fridge.  May also be frozen, where it will taste fresh for up to a year. 
smreka - juniper berry recipes
Juniper berry recipes - Smreka

5) Smreka

Delve into the enchanting world of wild fermentation with Smreka, a beverage as storied as the juniper berries it’s made from. This effervescent drink is a toast to tradition, harnessing the robust flavors of juniper to create a refreshing concoction that’s both grounding and invigorating. 

Crafting Smreka is a delightful foray into ancestral brewing techniques, a process where patience is as important as the ingredients. As you gather these wild berries, you’re not just picking fruit — you’re connecting with a lineage of natural wisdom and age-old practices. This fermentation recipe isn’t just about creating a beverage; it’s about wild yeasts and the bounty of nature. 

Ingredients

Directions 

    1. Combine the juniper berries and water in a quart-sized jar with a tight-fitting lid.
    2. Label your jar with the date, so you remember when you started the ferment. I love my low-tech label maker for this. 
    3. Place the jar out of direct sun, but in a place where you won’t forget about it.
    4. Shake every day. As the smreka ferments, the water will turn yellowish, and most of the fruit will sink to the bottom of the jar.
    5. Strain into a separate quart jar after 30 days. I like to use a fine mesh strainer to strain, but a coffee filter or cheesecloth work just as well. Use what you have on hand (even a t-shirt works in a pinch).
    6. Add other ingredients to taste such as honey, agave, sugar, lemon etc.
    7. Bottle and label, preferably in your fanciest decanter.
    8. Share with friends and enjoy!

Hopefully, the list above will inspire you to try out some new juniper berry recipes yourself. It’s a great time of year for it, as the berries are at their peak in terms of flavor. There are many different ways to use them in food, so be sure to experiment and find out what you like best for your own cooking style.

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1 thought on “5 Easy Juniper Berry Recipes to Try Today”

  1. What are spice berries and what is the measurement on the wild Masada Chai tea recipe? It just says “1/4 spice berries”.

    Thank you!

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