Juniper Berries (Juniperous horizontalis)
In the late summer, I am on the look out for juniper horizontalis; the creeping juniper that lays low and flat to the ground. I am on the hunt for dark blue juniper berries in particular, which take 3 full summers to ripen and mature. To me, they are a treasure and worth their weight in gold, they are sweet and peppery and add a complex citrus spicy flavour to meat and fish dishes. I dry the berries, adding them in my pepper grinder mixed with pink Himalayan salt, to season all savoury dishes. Juniper berries stimulates digestion, eases stomach aches and excess gas, helping to settle the stomach after a heavy meal. They can also be steeped as a tea for irritated urinary tracts acting as a diuretic, eliminating excess uric acid that can lead to gout and acting as a blood purifier.
The skin of juniper berries are covered in a light dusting of yeast that has been used to help bread rise. Add a small handful of juniper berries to a sourdough starter of flour and water and the yeast of the berries will do their work! Remove the berries from the mix once it has started bubbling and smelling yeasty and continue with your bread recipe. Try making a juniper berry infused butter to go with your bread, served with a mild cheese or smoked fish…..yum!
The essential oil of juniper can be diffused in a candle warmer to ward of colds and flus and ease bronchial congestion and smells amazing! Warm, woodsy, rich and spicy, the essential oil of juniper helps to clear the mind and lifts the spirits in challenging times. The branches and leaves can be dried and used as a smudging wand to disinfect spaces from any contagious diseases and to clear out unwanted energies.
Juniper berries are high in anti-inflammatory properties and help dispel toxins in the body. I like to make a winter body scrub mixed with ground dried juniper berries, Epsom salts and coconut oil, that I rub into my skin before entering a hot bath to ease tired, sore and inflamed joints.
This fall, I would like to make a crushed juniper berry soap with juniper essential oils for an astringent, refreshing and stimulating morning shower.
By Jenn Keir
Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2015