|When collecting, it's the darker, blue purple berries that you want.|
|These are last summer's fruit. You want 2 to 3 year old berries. They may be harder to find, yet these green/grey ones haven't ripened enough. They will be bitter and hard.|
|Best to leave these for next year's harvest.|
|Here you can see the difference up close. Rubbing them slightly before you pick them off the bush/tree, you'll see under the white coating their true colour. The darker, the better.|
|One of the best junipers to harvest from is Juniperus virginiana, like the one above. Also known as Eastern Red Cedar or Red Juniper. Berries are much larger and in some cases, the yield is double compared to other cultivars.|
Juniperus virginiana is a sizable variety of Juniper. Standing sometimes 30 ft or higher. It has a more airy habit and very long branch network. Like all Junipers, it's evergreen foliage is quite prickly and can give off a rash when branches come in contact with bare skin. Usually, the berries are found within two feet of the branch tips. Quite easy to gather. You can also collect berries (actually cones) from Juniperus horizontalis cultivars. Especially native ones; in woodlands throughout cottage country. Their berries are smaller and yields may vary due to conditions, but they too are good for culinary uses.
|Better to wear long sleeved shirts/jackets when handling the branches, just in case.|