First of all where do you get fresh juniper berries? Right outside your door or on your favorite trail if you live in New England as I do. Just picked a bunch along the Gorham Trail here in Northeast Harbor, ME. They range in color from green to dusky blue.
A Little History
There’s more to juniper than the flavor it adds to gin. It resembles a berry, but it’s actually a tiny edible pine cone. The flavor is piney, with a hint of citrus. Juniper berries date in archeological records as far back as ancient Egyptian tombs, most notably that of Tutankhamen. Greeks and Romans prized them for medicinal purposes, as did Native Americans. Junipers were also utilized by the Romans and Greeks to replace the much more expensive and less available spice, pepper. Ancient Greek athletes ate juniper berries for an added boost of energy!
In studies conducted by the Universite Tunis El-Manar, juniper berries were found to reduce the risk of brain disease and blood vessel problems. Iran’s Shiraz University of Medical Sciences found a high content of antioxidants in them. Further, the essential oils contained in the juniper were shown to have strong anti-bacterial properties. In yet another study, these essential oils were shown to have strong anti-fungus activity, and may help fight such fungal diseases as dermatophytosis. According to other research, junipers may also assist in diminishing the symptoms of PMS and menstrual cramps.
Juniper berries contain a number of nutrients including vitamins C and B, calcium and protein, and phytonutrients. They are an exceedingly strong diuretic, and assist in clearing the kidneys of uric acid, which makes juniper especially helpful with urinary tract infections. This berry is also a super digestive aid, helping to release gastric acids in the colon. Junipers assist in digestion in general, and increase appetite, while relieving gas and bloating from the digestive system. Juniper berries also contain high amounts of natural insulin, and are thus especially beneficial to diabetics.
- 3 Apples
- 1 Cucumber
- 3 stalks Celery
- 1 oz of fresh Juniper Berries
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 20 oz.
- Use the skin of the apple and cucumber for extra nutrients.
- For my local readers – my best source of Juniper berries including the dark blue ones is the “Hunters Cliff Trail” off of Rt 3 just beyond Seal Harbor.