Okay, so 8 in the morning is a bit early, but the spice I am going to write about today is what gives Gin its very distinctive flavour. All hail the juniper berry.
I am not a huge fan of Gin. I had a very bad time with Gin nearly 20 years ago and I never wish to repeat it thank you very much indeed, but I do have some juniper berries lying about. I use them when I make a game stew, or roast Venison, but even so, I want to see what else juniper berries can do. I have to tell you, I didn’t think they would be up to much.
I was wrong! What an interesting little berry. Juniper is grown on a bush, common in Europe and North America and it has a very distinctive smell. Apparently you can make medicinal preparations from the extract of juniper berries as well as essential oil.
Traditionally juniper has been used for digestive problems including upset stomach and intestinal gas as well as heartburn, bloating and loss of appetite. It stimulates the pancreas to release insulin, so it can help to manage diabetes, and can help to regulate appetite. It is useful in treating Gastro Intestinal infections as it is anti bacterial as well as potentially being anti-inflammatory. Apparently it also sees off intestinal worms. Juniper has also been used to treat snakebites as it is useful for numbing localised pain. It has also been used as a diuretic.
How you take juniper needs to be considered carefully. As Gin it is not ideal. And do not use for longer then 4 weeks in any case as it can cause issues. Personally I think I shall continue to use it in cooking.