Junipers berries, which are really a cone, are sweet, peppery, citrusy and another one of my favorite finds while out wandering the woods.
When the ground is not covered in snow, preferably late summer as the berries I am on the hunt for are at their sweetest, I keep an eye out for juniper horizontalis; the creeping juniper that lays low and flat to the ground. Juniper berries take 3 years to ripen to a deep blue, they are a treasure and worth their weight in gold, are sweet and peppery and add a complex citrus spicy flavour to meat and fish dishes. I dry the berries, adding them to my pepper grinder mixed with pink Himalayan salt, to season all savoury dishes. Juniper berries stimulates digestion, eases stomach aches and excess gas, helping to settle the stomach after a heavy meal. They can also be steeped as a tea for irritated urinary tracts acting as a diuretic, eliminating excess uric acid that can lead to gout and acting as a blood purifier.
The skin of juniper berries are covered in a light dusting of yeast that has been used to help bread rise. Add a small handful of juniper berries to a sourdough starter of flour and water and the yeast and the berries will work their magic! Remove the berries from the mix once it has started bubbling and smelling yeasty and continue with your bread recipe. Try making a juniper berry infused butter to go with your bread, served with a mild cheese or smoked fish or venison…..yum!
The essential oil of juniper can be diffused in a candle warmer to ward of colds and flus and ease bronchial congestion and smells amazing! Warm, woodsy, rich and spicy, the essential oil of juniper helps to clear the mind and lifts the spirits in challenging times. The branches and leaves can be dried and used as a smudging wand to disinfect spaces from any contagious diseases and to clear out unwanted energies. Juniper has a long magickal history as an incense to protect a home from negative energies and sickness, probably due to its healing and antibacterial properties.
Juniper berries are high in anti-inflammatory properties and help dispel toxins in the body. I like to make a winter body scrub mixed with ground dried juniper berries, solar dried salts and coconut oil that I massage gently on my skin before entering a hot bath to ease tired, sore and inflamed joints, which also works wonders on dry itchy winter skin! After a juniper berry scrub my skin feels invigorates, soft and hydrated. One of my best selling soaps is made from this beautiful berry creating an astringent, refreshing and stimulating morning shower, a perfect soap for the man in your life!
Happy harvesting and many blessings!