ingredient information
Juniper Berry Oil
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A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species, especially Juniperus communis, are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinguishing flavour. According to one FAO document, juniper berries are the only spice derived from conifers,[1] though tar and inner bark (used as a sweetener by Apache cuisines) from pine trees is sometimes considered a spice as well. The flavour profile of young, green berries is dominated by pinene; as they mature this piney, resinous backdrop is joined by what McGee describes as "green-fresh" and citrus notes.[7] The outer scales of the berries are relatively flavourless, so the berries are almost always at least lightly crushed before being used as a spice. They are used both fresh and dried, but their flavour and odour is at their strongest immediately after harvest and decline during drying and storage. Juniper berries are used in northern European and particularly Scandinavian cuisine to "impart a sharp, clear flavour"[1] to meat dishes, especially wild birds (including thrush, blackbird, and woodcock) and game meats (including boar and venison).[8] They also season pork, cabbage, and sauerkraut dishes. Traditional recipes for choucroute garnie, an Alsatian dish of sauerkraut and meats, universally include juniper berries.[9] Besides Norwegian and Swedish dishes, juniper berries are also sometimes used in German, Austrian, Czech and Hungarian cuisine, often with roasts. Northern Italian cuisine, especially that of the Alto Adige/Südtirol, also incorporates juniper berries. Gin was developed in the 17th century in the Netherlands. It was first intended as a medication; juniper berries are a diuretic and were also thought to be an appetite stimulant and a remedy for rheumatism and arthritis. Western American Native Tribes are also reported to have used the juniper berry as an appetite supressant in times of hunger and/or famine. Currently, the jumiper berry is being researched as a possible treatment for diet-controlled diabetes, as it releases insulin from the pancreas (hence alleviating hunger). It is also said to have been used by some tribes as a female contraceptive. The name gin itself is derived from either the French genièvre or the Dutch jenever, which both mean "juniper".[1] Other juniper-flavoured beverages include the Finnish rye-and-juniper beer known as sahti, which is flavoured with both juniper berries and branches.[10] A few North American juniper species produce a seed cone with a sweeter, less resinous flavour than those typically used as a spice. For example, one field guide describes the flesh of the berries of Juniperus californica as "dry, mealy, and fibrous but sweet and without resin cells".[11] Such species have been used not just as a seasoning but as a nutritive food by some Native Americans.[12] In addition to medical and culinary purposes, Native Americans have also used the seeds inside juniper berries as beads for jewellery and decoration.[12] An essential oil extracted from juniper berries is used in aromatherapy and perfumery.[4] The essential oil can be distilled out of berries which have already been used to flavour gin