How to use dried juniper berries: Recipes beyond gin
13 February 2018 | Schwartz
February’s London Gin Festival has us thinking of all things juniper. We love throwing a few lightly crushed berries into our glasses to enhance the flavour of a classic G&T – but there’s much more to these little pods of flavour. In fact, we’ve got a whole plethora of exciting juniper berry recipes to enhance all kinds of meal. So if you’ve got a few stowed away for drinks with friends, why not consider these alternative ways of using dried juniper berries?
What are juniper berries ?
Here’s the thing: the term juniper berry is a bit of a misnomer – they’re actually not berries at all. Instead, they’re a type of conifer, which is the family that pinecones come from – explaining why they have that distinct piny taste – and they tend to grow in cold climes. The sharp citrus notes of juniper berries make them perfect for cooking with, as the flavour is slowly drawn out through the cooking process. You can either pop them in whole or crush them up with a pestle and mortar, depending on how strong you want their flavour to be.
These lamb chops are a true showstopper dinner. The rub for the meat is made using lemon thyme leaves, lemon peel and ground ginger bound together with sticky honey – the tangy citrus flavours and the sweetness of the honey perfectly complement the more gamy lamb. Adding dried juniper berries to the lemon risotto really balances the lemon liquor; given how beautifully the two match in a gin and limoncello cocktail, imagine what wonders they can do in this dish!
Juniper berries are well known for their affinity to game meat, so treat yourself to a hearty dinner of roast venison. The richness of this meat means you can add plenty of spice and it won’t overpower it – juniper berries, peppery cloves, floral bay leaves and minty thyme are all welcome additions to the meat marinade. And while it may seem strange, add a square of dark chocolate for a wonderful deep layer to the dish. Trust us – it works. Finish this indulgent meal with some sweet, juicy pairs for a lighter contrast to the rich meat.
Leftover wine is perfect for pouring into a casserole… but let’s be honest – who has leftover wine? Using our Slow Cookers Chicken in Red Wine Recipe Mix means that you can get that rich, fruity taste with just a shake of a sachet. Slow cooking this recipe means the chicken becomes perfectly tender too, to the point where the meat just pulls apart. Throw a handful of dried juniper berries into the casserole dish so that over time, the simmering sauce slowly draws out their aromatic, full flavour.
Red cabbage is definitely not a dish you should just reserve for Christmas. It’s the perfect side to any roast dinner, and it’s really easy to make at home, so don’t deny yourself the rest of the year! All you need to do is fry sweet apple, onion and sliced red cabbage in a pan with dried juniper berries, bay leaves and sultanas. While the mix is nicely simmering, all the natural sweetness from the fruits will infuse the cabbage and leave it beautifully soft and flavoursome.