Fresh Juniper Berries in Manhattan?
Hello, old friends. Does anyone happen to know where I can buy fresh juniper berries in Manhattan?
Oi. Any luck? This question comes up periodically and no one ever seems to score. I did at some point look up mail order sources, including this place:
But Riviera only has fresh juniper berries occasionally. (They didn't have them when I was looking for them last spring.) Try giving them a call if you've no other leads:
Juniper berries aren't a berry, but a female pine cone that looks like a berry. And they take apx. two years to grow. So when they are picked they are already pretty well dried out. They are never wet inside, ever, not even moist. I have picked my own and have had them green and ripe, and both are pretty dry in general. The less ripe, the harsher the flavor. For cooking fresh, ripe, dark berries are best. Penzey's has very good quality juniper. The Frontier brand from Whole Foods tend to be very fresh, but at several times the price.
For gin the best juniper berries are ones that are aged an additional 1-3 years at controlled humidity. Many of the top gin makers age their juniper themselves. Although some gin makers use unripe berries.
I actually saw some growing in a pot, still green and soft, on Lafayette Street just South of Prince, at the top of the driveway below Caffe Falai and above the firehouse. Don't think anyone would notice if you grabbed a few berries. Can't beat the price.