The once humble juniper berry is enjoying a renaissance of its ancient popularity as a seasoning for game, as the country's top restaurants list venison, squab, pheasant, and rabbit to their menus.
A few juniper berries reduce the wild flavor of these meats, and add the pleasant tartness associated with Germanic dishes such as sauerbraten, stuffed goose, and beef stews. Juniper tea is a century old hangover remedy. Along the Baltic coast, the dried berries are ground by peppermill to add flavor to meats.
The blue to gray-green "berries" are actually tiny cones whose scales are so tightly clenched that they appear round.
The dried berries should be crushed well just before using as the flavor will decline rapidly once exposed to the air. You won't need many, three or four of the berries will flavor most dishes without overpowering the main ingredient or other seasonings.
Did you know that juniper berries are what give the alcohol "gin" their flavor? The word "gin" is a corruption of genièvre, the French word for juniper.