Juniper berries are the fruit of a small evergreen plant that’s often used in landscaping. Native Americans used juniper berries as food and the dried berries can also be ground into a kind of substitute for coffee. Juniper was used in the Middle Ages to flavor many meats, including beef, mutton, pork and venison. The distinctive, spicy taste of juniper can be a “love it or leave it” affair. It’s best known as the principal flavoring of gin, but you can also use juniper to flavor wild game dishes, or add it to sauerkraut and pork sausages. Juniper also perks up marinades, and some cooks flavor fresh salmon with crushed juniper berries before smoking it.
Juniper is a great addition to your kitchen spice rack, but juniper can be intense: a little goes a long way.