The Common Juniper and the Rocky Mountain Juniper are both found in Bryce Canyon National Park. These juniper species produce berries which have many purposes in cooking and other uses. Looking in cool, shady areas below the rim of the canyon is the best place to find these conifers. Once the plant is found, the berries, which are actually cones, can be properly identified and then used for a variety of things, from cooking to treating certain ailments. Juniper berries are one of nature’s many incredible harvests and Bryce Canyon is the perfect place to find them.
Finding and Identifying Juniper Berries
It is important when collecting berries for consumption or other uses that those picking the berries are positive they are picking a type of berry that is safe to use. Picking and consuming unknown berries can result in serious complications. Therefore, juniper berries must be properly identified before using them for food, medicinal, or other purposes.
To properly identify juniper berries, one must find the correct type of juniper first. The Rocky Mountain Juniper is identified by it’s tall, slender shape. This tree can grow up to 45 feet tall and has a trunk circumference of around 18 inches. The waxy leaves and twigs of the Rocky Mountain Juniper give it a unique look and feel. The berries themselves have a waxy covering and are made up of many soft scales. They begin as a green color and, as they ripen, turn a bluish hue. Finding these berries when ripe is an exciting treat.
The Common Juniper is commonly used for ornamental purposes. However, in Bryce Canyon, the Common Juniper grows wild and produces juniper berries throughout the year. The Common Juniper is usually a low shrub, but it can grow to be quite tall. The berries produced have a waxy coating and are blue when ripe. These strong berries are often dried and used sparingly for cooking and home remedies.
Cooking with Juniper Berries
The intense taste of the juniper berry means eating it raw is not advised, but it can be used for a variety of things in the kitchen.
Ripe berries can be used in a marinade or applied to meat before cooking. Perfect for wild game and any other type of meat, the juniper berries give the meat a strong pepper taste once cooked.
When berries are added to pickled vegetables and fermented foods, like sauerkraut, the food is given a unique taste. Juniper berries can add a great flavor to most pickled, fermented, and marinated foods.
A drink called Smerka, which is a Bosnian creation, can be created by leaving juniper berries in water for a few weeks to allow them to ferment. Drinking fermented beverages is a great way to improve gut health.
Using Juniper Berries at Home
Juniper berries tout a variety of impressive uses for medicinal purposes. Using the natural juniper berry can help to avoid the need for over the counter medication. It is important to consult a physician before using any natural remedy.
Juniper berries can be used to aid digestion and reduce gas and bloating. To aid in digestion, the crushed berries can be boiled for twenty minutes to create a tea. For gas and bloating, create a syrup by leaving berries in water for a week, then add sugar and boil the mixture until thick.
Juniper berries, like many other plants, can be used as an antiseptic to treat minor cuts. To do this, a tincture should be created with the berries and applied to the affected area topically.
Inflammation and Water Retention
By creating a tincture with a high quality alcohol, juniper berries can relieve inflammation and decrease water retention. Soaking berries in alcohol for a week will create this useful tincture.
Reap the Benefits of Juniper Berries
By finding these magnificent berries in Bryce Canyon and properly identifying them, individuals can experience the many benefits of using juniper berries for food and medicinal purposes. These berries are just one of the many magical wonders that can be found in Bryce Canyon.