If you’ve never used juniper in your kitchen, start with this simple, potent honey infusion. Juniper berries are brimming with beneficial plant compounds, like vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Grown on an evergreen shrub found in many parts of the world, juniper berries have a spicy aroma and tart flavor. Funny enough, juniper berries aren’t berries at all and are actually aromatic cones from conifer trees—akin to a citrusy spice. They’re often used in cooking, but some cultures have used them medicinally since ancient times.
In this honey infusion, you’ll get the beneficial enzymes and healing benefits of honey, coupled with the medicinal properties of juniper berries. Along with being considered a digestive aid, juniper berries many benefits include:
- High monoterpenes content (limonene, camphor, and beta-pinene)—known for anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. (1)
- Antidiabetic effects (found in animal studies). (2)
- Promotes heart health. (3)
Just a reminder: Herbal honey infusions do not need to be an exact science. Have fun experimenting with different ingredients and ratios.
In general, a good starting point is one part herbal material, and 1.5 parts honey, but please feel free to vary. The most important part is that you want the honey to completely cover your herbal material.
- After rinsing your juniper berries, make sure to fully dry them. Or else the excess water increases the likelihood that the honey infusion will grow mold.
- Fresh juniper is preferred, but if you can’t find any, dried juniper is ok, too. Just make sure to fully cover the juniper berries with honey.
- When trimming fresh juniper berries from the branch, carefully snip off the needle-like leaves and berries. Discard the branch.
- Use a funnel under the strainer for less mess.
- Try to find creative ways to use residue and leftover honey-soaked herbal material (like making a yummy sweet tea).
- For honey infused with fresh herbs, you can store it in the fridge to extend shelf-life (up to 6 months).
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- 1 cup fresh juniper berries and leaves (adjust amount of each if needed, needs to fill mason jar to the top)
- 1¼ cup raw honey
- Rinse herbs and fully dry.
- Place and press the herbs down in the mason jar. Entire jar should be filled with herbs.
- Pour in honey and fully coat herbs.
- Stir (make sure all herbs are fully coated in honey). Add more honey if necessary to cover the top of the herbs.
- Put the jar in a crockpot and fill the crockpot with water (not so high that the jar falls or gets water into it). Make sure to keep your jar uncovered and the crockpot open so that the water in the honey and herbs can steam away. This gives it a longer shelf life. On the other hand, if you want to keep more of the aromatic essential oil compounds in there, you can lightly cover the vessel, but NEVER SEAL.
- Set to low and keep in the crockpot for 6 to 12 hours. You want the honey to get warm enough that it is runny, but never bubbling. Adjust as needed, to make sure that honey does not get too high of a temperature (ideally kept between 100 to 130F).
- Strain the honey through a fine-mesh strainer while it's still hot (be careful your jar may be hot!)
- You can take a spoonful of the honey straight from the jar or stir it into tea.
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- Kozioł, Agata et al. “An overview of the pharmacological properties and potential applications of natural monoterpenes.” Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry vol. 14,14 (2014): 1156-68.
- Ju, Jung Bong et al. “Comparison between ethanolic and aqueous extracts from Chinese juniper berries for hypoglycaemic and hypolipidemic effects in alloxan-induced diabetic rats.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 115,1 (2008): 110-5.
- Huang, Haohai et al. “Effects of Berries Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-analysis with Trial Sequential Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Scientific reports vol. 6 23625. 23 Mar. 2016.