Week 8: Juniper Berries

It’s the middle of the summer, and even though blueberries, cherries, and other lovely fruits are readily available I found a recipe without fruit that intrigued me. My good friend Liz bought me the The Organic Seasonal Cookbook as a gift, and I came across a recipe that uses juniper berries. I decided to find out more about them and try something new.

I found out that the little dark blue-green spheres are not berries, but little cones with tightly closed scales. Juniper berries are what gives gin its flavor. I didn’t actually taste the berries, choosing to just inhale deeply after crushing them. Over at Not Martha, they decided to taste the juniper berries. This description is great!

We were curious and each ate a dried juniper berry. I found it to be very much like men’s cologne, which Scott summed up nicely by declaring it was like chewing on Grey Flannel. Most people declare Christmas tree, we are here to say cologne.

Ah men’s cologne. That sounds rather dismal. But in fact when I tried out this recipe (very loosely based on the above cookbook’s version), I found that the taste really was a cooling, unique flavor that was astonishingly wonderful. I thought the use of this flavoring would be a one-off, but I will definitely use it more in the future. Too bad I don’t have any wild game.

Red Cabbage Salad with Juniper Berries

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup water
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
10 juniper berries, crushed
white vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat oil in medium pan on medium-high heat, and cook onions until soft, about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper a bit at this point. Once the onions are soft, add the red cabbage and the water. Let some steam escape while tossing the cabbage, then cover and let the cabbage get soft, about 5 minutes or until at desired tenderness. Remove pan from heat. Lightly sprinkle sugar over top and add a dash or two of white vinegar. Toss lightly and salt and pepper to taste.

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