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Fermented Juniper Berry Juice (Smreka)

  • Author: Balkan Lunch Box
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Total Time: 5 mins
  • Category: Beverage


  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 cup dry juniper berries
  • 4 cups water


  1. Wash lemon well, and quarter it leaving the skin on. Combine with juniper berries and place in a large glass 1-liter bottle (or jar). Fill with water all the way and close the lid loosely.
  2. Leave bottle on the window sill (or the terrace), for 7-15 days. A lot of juniper berries will start sinking to the bottom, or travel up and down in the bottle, while water will become yellowish. This is your sign that the juice is ready. (Please read the note regarding the spot you chose for fermenting.)
  3. Strain the juice, transfer to a different bottle, and keep in a cold place.
  4. When getting ready to consume the juice, taste and see if it’s to your liking. If it’s too strong, dilute with a little bit of regular or mineral water. Add a teaspoon of sugar as well if you prefer.
  5. Meanwhile, repeat the process to make more juice with the same berries. Transfer them back into the original bottle, add a new quartered lemon, fill them up with water, and leave in a sunny spot. You can reuse berries once or twice. When most of them stay on the bottom, and the juice is no longer flavorful, they’re ready to be discarded.


The berries sometimes travel up and down the jar. If you’ve used a lot of berries, a lot may not even fall to the bottom before the juice is ready. That’s fine. Tasting the juice, and discovering its tart, sour and refreshing flavor is a sign smreka is ready to be consumed.

As with anything fermented, there is no rule that’s cut in stone. You may like to ferment berries without lemon. You may like to leave the juice to ferment longer than 10-15 days. Or you may think 7 days is enough. Some readers found the lemon goes bad if the berries are kept in the sunny place while they ferment. This hasn’t happened to me, but my window sill – where I usually keep them while they ferment – is not sunny all day long. It may be better to keep them in shade while they ferment. Use your best judgement.

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