Juniperus virginiana – Eastern Red Cedar

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Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a native tree that produces edible seed cones, also known as “juniper berries”.
Eastern red cedars produce two types of needles. The young needles are short and sharp. The older needles are scale-like. The seed cones, or “berries”, take three years to mature. They are ready to harvest when they are dark blue.
Only female trees will produce the juniper berries. Trees in sunnier areas will produce more berries. All upright tree form junipers are non-toxic.
Juniper berries can be consumed raw in moderation or used to flavor meat or sauerkraut. They are also used to flavor gin. Juniper berries have a resinous flavor with some sweetness.
Juniper berries have been used medicinally as an antimicrobial, to clear phlegm, to treat UTI’s, and for lowering cholesterol.
Juniper berries can be used to make homemade gin. Just add juniper berries and any other desired herbs to vodka. Store in the fridge for two days, shaking occasionally. Strain, and then you have your own wild gin! 

Written by Amy Demers, founder of the Connecticut Foraging Club. To learn more about foraging in Connecticut, check out our upcoming classes.


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