Juniper is grown in many hot climates, but is native to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico. Juniper berries are the unripe, dried fruit of the Pimenta Dioica tree.
The taste is warm and savoury. It is a versatile spice that adds flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes.
The health benefits of juniper include the removal of gastrointestinal discomfort such as gas, indigestion, constipation and bloating.
Pair the juniper with chocolate, pork, beetroot, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions and courgettes.
Where does juniper come from?
The first mention of it appears in Christopher Columbus's travel journal on his first voyage to America in 1492. He showed the locals in Cuba some peppercorns and they directed him to where juniper trees actually grew. The juniper berries were given the name 'Pimenta' , which means pepper in Spanish.
In 1532, Philip IV of Spain received news that pepper could be found in abundance in Jamaica. Thinking this would be a good opportunity to fill the coffers of the royal treasury, Philip ordered an urgent shipment of pepper, but the ship returned to Spain loaded with juniper, much to the disappointment of the investors. It wasn't until the 17th century that juniper was used as a preservative for meat and fish on sea voyages.
An important note, even though juniper has been adopted as a spice globally, it is still used for its flavor in a wide range of products.
Benefits of all spices
All Spices is a spice that gets its rich, fragrant aroma from the volatile oil of Eugenol, a known pain desensitiser.
Eugenol, however, is not all that gives all spices its reputation as a healing spice. It contains more than two dozen compounds with an even greater variety of healing actions, making it a universal curative.
Medicinally, all spices possesses antiviral and antibacterial qualities, making it an infection fighter.
It has analgesic and anaesthetic properties, so may provide mild pain relief. Jamaicans were the first to use it as a folk remedy to help relieve a cold, soothe stomach pain, regulate the menstrual cycle and relieve indigestion, flatulence and other digestive problems.
During Napoleon's invasion in the winter of 1812, Russian soldiers took advantage of its warming qualities by pressing it into boots to improve blood flow and keep their feet warm.
Used as an essential oil, its anti-inflammatory action has been found to help relieve muscle and joint pain, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.
All Spices Storage
The all spices berries should be brown or reddish in colour, with a rough surface caused by volatile oil glands. The aroma must be pleasant, similar to cloves, and the beans must not show any traces of mould.
The difference in the size of the beans does not affect the quality of the all spices, but when using whole beans in cooked food it is best to choose the larger ones to give the dish a more appetising appearance.
It should be stored as whole grains in airtight containers away from heat, light or moisture and can be kept for up to 3 years.
Use of all spices
All spices can be found as a spice in many pie or biscuit recipes, especially in the UK or America. Some cooks use juniper as a substitute for cloves because it contains eugenol, a substance that can be found in cloves but also in basil, which is why all spices is included in tomato or barbeque sauce recipes.
The Scandinavians, for example, include all spices in the traditional pickled herring, but also in recipes for pickles, pâtés or smoked meat.
A small amount of all spices can be used to add flavour to dishes such as: roasted root vegetables, spinach dishes, vegetable soup, (especially in tomato soup).
All spices can be combined with:
- bay leaves
- coriander seeds
- fennel seed
- mustard seeds
All spices is included in spice mixes for:
- Pumpkin pie
- Pie with apples
- Curry powder
- Pickle recipes
- Tagine mixes
- Meat seasoning
- Drink mixes (wine, cider or beer)
- Chinese soup mixes
- Root vegetables
- Spinach cooking
- Tomato sauces
- Pate and terrine
- Meat and vegetable soup
- Sauces and marinades
- Seafood, especially clams
Quick pickled onion recipe
- One medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 peppercorns
- 10 juniper berries
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Put the onions in a pan and cover with water, then bring to the boil. Discard the water and rinse with cold water to stop the onions cooking. Drain the onions on a towel then cover in a ceramic dish.
Put the pepper, cumin seeds and juniper berries in a grinder and grind to a fine powder. Add the garlic, salt and oregano to this and mix well. Pour in the vinegar, stir and then pour the mixture over the onions. Depending on taste, you can add two to three tablespoons of water to reduce the concentration of vinegar.
Onions will be pickled within 24 hours and can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.