Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Juniper berries are female seed cones produced by the various juniper species. A juniper berry is not a real berry, but a cone that has unusual fleshy scales that have grown together, giving the juniper berry a berry-like appearance.

Thanks to different types and uses, juniper berries can be used in many ways and have long been counted as a spice and medicinal plant. We have therefore compared different models with each other and you will learn what you should look for when buying and how you can ultimately find the right model for you.




Summary

  • There are about 70 different species of juniper as a tree or shrub. The only species that is not poisonous is the common juniper, which also has the small blue berries.
  • Juniper berries have a sweet bitter taste. That is why they are often used as a spice in the kitchen.
  • You can also plant juniper berries in the garden yourself. They also survive cold winters.

The Best Juniper Berries: Our Picks

In the following, we have compiled and listed our favourites. This should help you to simplify your purchase decision and find the right juniper berries for your needs.

Buying and evaluation criteria for juniper berries

To make your choice easier, we have summarised the most important criteria for juniper berries so that you can find the best juniper berries for you. These criteria are as follows:

Now we explain what to look for in these criteria so that you can make a well-informed decision.

Intended use

The intended use is an important criterion that you should pay attention to when buying. Juniper berries can be used for various purposes. Juniper berries have a savoury, sweet and bitter taste and a very intense seasoning power.

This is why the cone is suitable as a spice for cooking, it is used a lot in marinades and ragouts, but also helps in the preparation of pâtés and sauerbraten. Juniper berries are also used to make herbal schnapps or gin. Traditionally, they are also used medicinally.

Healing properties

Juniper berries have been used in naturopathy for thousands of years. It can help against gastrointestinal complaints and urinary tract infections, as the juniper berry consists of essential oils that can have an antispasmodic effect.

However, it should only be taken for a short period of time. When taking it, however, you should pay attention to the correct dosage and best discuss and clarify this with a doctor.

Since there are different types of juniper, you have to be careful. The essential oils can be toxic and cause stomach pain and nausea.

Therefore, you should be careful what you buy and discuss this with a doctor. Depending on the species you buy, the concentration can vary.

How toxic it is depends on how ripe it is. Juniper berries should only be used in low doses and should also be used sparingly in dishes. If side effects occur, the intake of liquids can help them to subside.

Type

There are many different types of juniper, which is why you should always take a close look at the type of juniper you are buying. Some species are not intended for consumption. In total, there are about 70 different species that belong to the juniper family. The juniper species we are talking about here is Juniperus communis, also known as common juniper.

If you want to plant a juniper tree yourself, you should remember the name. Depending on the species, junipers are either creeping shrubs or evergreen trees. The needles of almost all junipers are poisonous, the only exception being Juniperus communis (common juniper). Only in this species are the dark blue berries edible and not poisonous.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about juniper berries answered in detail

In this section we explain the most frequently asked questions about juniper berries so that you are sufficiently informed when you want to buy juniper berries.

Who are juniper berries suitable for?

Juniper berries are suitable for almost everyone, thanks to their versatility they can be used for a wide range of applications. Juniper berries are perfect for cooking, especially for hearty dishes such as game, entrecôte or roast beef. They can also be interesting for fish dishes, as they have a unique flavour.

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Juniper berries are excellent as a spice or for smoking.(Image source: Peter Klopp / Pixabay)

However, you should make sure to taste them first and find out whether you like the taste at all or whether it is perhaps not to your taste. Juniper berries are suitable for use as a remedy, but you should consult a doctor beforehand so as not to cause any effects that are not welcome.

What types of juniper berries are there?

You can buy juniper berries according to your preference. If you like to use it in cooking, for a soup or a sauce, you might like ground juniper berries better.

Dried juniper berries can also easily be ground yourself or used whole, depending on you and your preferences. Juniper berries can also be used fresh, but they do not have quite as strong a flavour as the dried ones and should be stored in a cool, dry place.

How long can juniper berries be kept?

Under proper storage conditions, juniper berries can usually last 3 or more years. However, too much moisture can greatly reduce the shelf life. If you have the opportunity to vacuum seal the packs after use, be sure to do so to extend the shelf life and prevent unnecessary throwing away.

To prevent moisture penetration, do not store the juniper berries near the cooker or other sources of moisture. In addition, make sure that the juniper berries are stored away from light, as strong sunlight can cause the juniper berries to quickly lose their intense flavour.

However, you should still pay attention to the expiry date on the respective packaging to avoid complications.

Conclusion

Whether as a spice or a remedy, juniper berries can be very helpful in these areas. Thanks to the different types and uses, they are versatile and can give your food the right kick. However, make sure you know what you want to use the juniper berries for in order to choose the right ones.

Pay attention to the criteria to find the perfect juniper berries for you. You can also plant the junipers yourself, just make sure that you have planted the right type of juniper and what you need to bear in mind. However, personal preferences and the price also play an important role in the purchase decision.

(Cover photo: wal_172619/ Pixabay)

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