Tag Archives: wild herbs

Juniper Berries: Aromatic Flavor

What we call juniper berries are actually small cones — green their first year and then changing to bluish the second year. They grow throughout the southwest at elevations of at least 3,000 feet and frequently in the company of pinon pines. If you’ve ever tasted gin you know the flavor of juniper.  Although gin is flavored with lots of different herbs and spices, juniper is the predominant flavor.

Chef Molly Beverly of Prescott College shared with me her recipe for Juniper Berry-Chili Rub for Meat.  Molly is a real activist in the Northern Arizona food world. Not only does she keep Prescott College students fed delicious, locally sourced, organic food at the college’s Crossroads Cafe, she also participates in spreading the word on healthy eating.  She teaches cooking classes, is active in Slow Food, and writes a column for a Prescott monthly.  You can read some of her columns here.

Chef Molly Beverly  of Prescott College                          

Here is Chef Beverly’s recipe for Juniper Berry-Chili Rub:

Heaping ¼ cup dried juniper berries

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

4 large fat cloves garlic

4 tablespoons olive oil

Water as needed

Using a blender, grind juniper berries.  Add remaining ingredients and grind all of a paste, adding water to keep liquid moving.  Rub into meat and allow to marinate, refrigerated for 4 to 6 hours. Roast, basting with excess marinade from pan.

(For more delicious recipes using juniper berries, check out my cookbook Cooking the Wild Southwest, Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants.  I include a recipe for Artisanal Gin made with juniper berries and nine other flavorings that people have raved over.)


Father Kino’s Herbs

Award-winning garden writer Jacqueline A. Soule has pulled together a fascinating book on the life of Father Eusebio Francisco Kino and some of the plants that he brought to Southern Arizona and northwestern Sonora, and area called the Pimeria Alta.  Father Kino, born in what is now Italy, arrived in the Pimeria Alta in March 1687 and worked for 24 years to make the lives of the natives living there better, while, of course, converting them to Christianity.  Father Kino and the other Catholic missionaires introduced some Old World herbs and discovered some New World plants unknown in Europe. 

Before modern drugstores, herbs were a family’s medicine chest. The native populations knew which ones worked as an insectide, antiseptic, laxative, cold medicine, sleep aid,  and vitamin pill.  They were aware that certain twigs were good to use as a toothbrush and  others were good to dye fibers. Soule discusses more 40 of these plants, from Aloysia (Mexican oregano)  to Yerba Mansa.  She tells how to select, plant and nuture them. Once you’ve grown your herbs, Soule leads you through harvesting and preserving in a useful form.

Soule concludes the book with a few recipes including herb syrups, herbal toothpaste and bubblebath.  You can purchase Father Kino’s Herbs at the Tucson Botantical Gardens or order it here.

Jacqueline A. Soule, Ph.D.