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Juniper Berries (Juniperus Communis) are the ripe, dried cones from the Juniper Evergreen Shrub. These small bluish purple berries are about 1/4" wide with an intense spicy flavor with a slight overtone of pine. Best known as the flavoring for gin and other liqueurs. Juniper Berries also have many medicinal claims along with their culinary applications. Tie a handful in cheesecloth and toss into your bath for an invigorating soak Thought to drive away evil spirits, Juniper was often planted near the entrance of homes to prevent the entry of witches. It is believed that the Holy Family was sheltered by the branches of a Juniper Tree when fleeing from King Herod. Juniper is believed to serve as a guardian.
Juniper Berries are thought to stimulate the appetite and therefore should be used sparingly. Most often used with cooking game meat, the berries are used in a marinade or rubbed over the meat before grilling or roasting.
Add ground juniper berries to marinades for game gives a wonderful flavor. For stews, a few teaspoons of ground juniper berries, parsley, fennel and bay leaves make a delicious spice combination.
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