For centuries, juniper berries have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes.
These spicy berries from the Juniper tree can be used fresh or dried, crushed or whole, and were used as a medicine in ancient Egypt.
Nowadays they’re most commonly used to flavour casseroles, marinades and stuffings, and complement pork, rabbit, venison, beef and duck. They can also be used in sweet dishes such as fruitcake and provide the main flavouring for gin.
We set Glasgow Clyde College lecturer Steven Sanderson the challenge of creating five deliciously different dishes using these versatile berries. Here’s what he came up with….
To make our own Gravadlax in the restaurant we cure the salmon in a mixture of crushed juniper
berries, sea salt, sugar, dill, gin and lime zest for two days. We serve this with a smoked salmon mousse, Melba toast and a Bloody Mary dressing.
2. Beetroot Carpaccio
We pickle our own vegetables for certain dishes. The cure that we use is equal quantities of sugar and white wine vinegar, infused with juniper berries, cardamom pods, star anise and cinnamon stick.
We use this to pickle beetroot for a dish of beetroot carpaccio with goat’s cheese mousse, cherry tomatoes and candied walnuts, I have also used this pickle for cucumber, carrots and cauliflower.
3. Venison casserole
We regularly have this on our Sunday lunch menu especially now that Scottish winter is upon us. We slow cook the venison with juniper berries, thyme, onions and carrots in a rich red wine and redcurrant gravy. This is generally served with dumplings.
We have a homemade seasoning which consists of crushed juniper berries, pink peppercorns, sea salt and black pepper.
We use this for our duck, venison and lamb dishes. This gives a lovely fragrant touch to the meat.
5. Poached pears with shortbread, stem ginger and vanilla ice cream
When we poach pears we do it in a stock syrup containing juniper berries, saffron and honey. This gives a lovely flavour and great colour, that goes really well with shortbread and stem ginger and vanilla ice cream.
About Steven Sanderson
Steven is a professional cookery lecturer at Glasgow Clyde College. He mentored a team of students who went on to win silver in the Country Range Student Chef Challenge 2017.
In addition to working at the college, Steven also has a small country restaurant called Steayban, which he bought 19 years ago, and he currently works there at the weekends. He has over 30 years’ professional experience working in restaurants and hotels between Glasgow and Edinburgh.