Real World Gardener Juniper Berry in cooking in Spice It Up

September 9th, 2016

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition


Juniper Juniperus communis


This small tree is native to desert regions so it’s hardy and drought-resistant.

But not only does this tree give your garden an interesting focal point with its fibrous and furrowed bark and attractive needles, the dried berries can be used to give your homemade gin its distinctive flavour.

Juniper berries have a bloom.

 Conifers in general have pine cones however the Juniper bush has what appears to be fleshy berries with a large seed inside.

The berry  of the culinary Juniper, Juniperus communis, is somewhat smaller than a blueberry and and about the same size as an Allspice berry.

Let’s find out what it is. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of Herbies Spices and author of the Spice Bible

Juniper%2Bbush.jpgIan says Juniper berries are a demon to harvest because they don't all ripen at once, and the needles on the Juniper tree are very prickly, so you need protective gloves.

Make Your Own Gin

The berries can be used to flavour your own gin.

Start with some vodka to which you can add whole Juniper berries, some Coriander seed, and Grains of Paradise. You can crush the berries in a mortar and pestle if you wish.

Cooking with Juniper Berries

The piney flavour of the berries help to balance foods that are rich or cloying, such as Duck or Pork.

Juniper berries go great in a meat pie either used whole or crushed.

Juniper Trees

Unlike other conifers that have either needles or scales, juniper trees have both, sometimes on the same branch.

The needles have sharp edges and a pungent, distinctive scent, sort of like Rosemary with Citrus undertones.

The berries look like smaller blueberries, juniper berries also appear in red or copper, and are in fact soft cones.

Like typical hard and prickly conifer cones, juniper berries also contain the tree's seeds.

You can catch that up by listening to the podcast

If you have any questions about growing Juniper Berries or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.

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