What do with juniper berries left over from gin distillation? Make cheese

By Jim Cornall contact

- Last updated on GMT

The cheesemaker said the juniper berries blend perfectly with the flavor of the Gouda-type cheese.  Pic: Liviko/Andre Farm
The cheesemaker said the juniper berries blend perfectly with the flavor of the Gouda-type cheese. Pic: Liviko/Andre Farm

Related tags: Cheese, Gin, Latvia

An Estonian distillery has found a novel way to use juniper berries after they have been used for gin production.

AS Liviko, which is based in the Estonian capital Tallinn, is one of the biggest alcohol companies in the Baltic region, and it has partnered with the Andre cheese farm to create Crafter’s Juniper cheese.

“At Liviko, we’ve come up with a unique approach that makes use of the juniper berries and the extract left over from the gin distillation process,”​ said Hanna Kaur, Liviko’s beverage architect.

“Laboratory tests have shown that these juniper berries contain valuable minerals, and as much as a quarter of the berries is fiber. With Crafter’s Juniper cheese, we take the reuse of the production residue in the food industry to a whole new level. I hope that we can inspire other manufacturers to create new flavor experiences in a similar manner.”

Erika Pääbus, hostess at Andre cheese farm, said Liviko's suggestion of adding leftover juniper berries from gin distillation to cheese was appealing from the start.

“Soon, the first batch of cheese with juniper berry fragments was set aside for maturing, and it became apparent that the slightly bitter taste of the juniper berries blends perfectly with the flavor of our Gouda-type cheese,”​ Pääbus said.

“Crafter’s Juniper is a creamy cheese with a delicate juniper bouquet, made from milk enriched with dried juniper berries and sourced from happy cows raised on pure feed, like our other cheeses.”

In 2019, Liviko developed a solution for its used juniper berries: they are reused to make another drink.  The remaining extract is used to make Re-crafted Crafter’s juniper berry soft drink and juniper beer (3.2 vol), and now the high-fiber juniper berries have another use, as they are then added to cheese.

Kaur said juniper berries have a rich flavor profile.

“We have discovered three distinct flavor notes, which provide fresh, slightly bitter and faintly woody nuances in all three product categories. Once the Crafter’s gin has been distilled, we use the remaining flavorsome extract to make the Re-crafted Crafter’s sparkling craft drinks. Then, the same juniper berries end up in Andre cheese farm’s delicious cheese, which goes excellently with a classic gin cocktail,”​ Kaur said.

At Andre cheese farm, all cheeses are made from the farm’s own supply of cow’s milk. The product range includes a selection of cheese similar to Gouda, with various flavors and maturation times. The cheese farm is a subsidiary of the family business Andre Farmi OÜ, which was set up in 1998 in Tartu county. It started cheese production in 2015.

Andre Farm has 200 dairy cows; about two thirds of the milk is processed into cheese.

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