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Juniper berry

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**Juniper Berry: Description and Botanical Characteristics**
Juniper berries come in green and purple varieties on the same plant.
– They have fleshy scales and vary in diameter from 4mm to 12mm.
– Maturation can range from 8-10 months to over 24 months.
Juniper belongs to the Cupressaceae family and is an evergreen shrub or tree with needle-like leaves.
– It produces small, bluish-black berries and thrives in dry, rocky soils.

**Juniper Berry: Chemistry**
Juniper berries contain diverse phytochemicals, with essential oil making up about 2% of volume.
– Resins constitute about 10% of volume, and extracts yield fatty acids, terpenes, and aromatic compounds.
– Isolated compounds include pinene, sabinene, and limonene.

**Juniper Berry: Uses**
– Berries are used fresh or dried for their flavor in European, Scandinavian, German, and Italian cuisine.
Juniper is a key flavoring in gin and other alcoholic beverages.
– Used in meat dishes like sauerbraten and sausages, as well as in pickling recipes.
– Has medicinal uses and is used in aromatherapy for relaxation.
– Some cultures believe it has detoxifying effects.

**Juniper Berry: Historical and Cultural Significance**
Juniper berries have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs and were used in cosmetics and fragrances.
– Greeks and Romans used juniper berries for various purposes.
– Native Americans and Desert Serrano culture used juniper berries for culinary, medicinal, and decorative purposes.
Juniper has been mentioned in historical texts and played a role in early peoples’ lives in regions like Montana.

**Juniper Berry: Safety and Toxicity**
– Generally recognized as safe, but caution is advised.
– Side effects include increased risk of miscarriage and allergic reactions.
– Consumption may affect pregnant or breastfeeding women.
– Large amounts may cause catharsis, convulsions, or harm kidney function.
– Contraindicated during pregnancy, not recommended during lactation, and further investigation on safety aspects is needed.

Juniper berry (Wikipedia)

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 called a galbulus, which gives 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 distinctive flavour. Juniper berries are among the only spices derived from conifers, along with spruce buds.

Juniper berries are actually modified conifer cones.
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