Saturday, June 02, 2012

Prickly Borage

Borage in the garden

Prickly but pretty, borage is one of our garden favorites both for its lovely color and also for its attrictiveness to the bees.  We've had borage for a number of years, but only this year did I try experimenting by eating its leaves and making an herbal brew.

The tender, baby leaf is edible and used in salads.  It has a light cucumber flavor.  As the plant grows, it gets prickly hairs on the leaves.  These agitate my skin, so I handle the plant with rubber gloves.

Borage is native to Mediterranean countries and had a reputation for brightening spirits.  It has also been thought to reduce fever.  In modern uses, its seeds are used to make gamma-linolenic acid.

Notice the two differently colored flowers

When making an herbal infusion, I use both the leaf and flowers.  I tear up the leaves to encourage the release of the plant's essence.  I poured boiling water over the leaf and steeped for 10 minutes.  The liquor is very light and light tasting, enjoyable and refreshing with the benefit of being caffeine-free.  When I sip the infusion alone, I can get a hint of the cucumber flavor, but that's easily overrun when taken with food.

Have you ever used borage?


Steph said...

PS - After having posted this and gone back to the tea, I find that I like it at a 20 minute steep. The color and flavor intensify, but still very pleasing.

Teafan said...

Never even heard of this plant, but I'll be on the lookout now.

Marilyn said...

I have never been tempted to even grow borage. It is pretty though and I love your photos. I have however been thinking about nettles. Have you tried them. I saw a picture of nettle mousse stuffed eggs and I was intrigued. Not even sure where to find them.

Pearl's Tea said...

I just planted borage few weeks ago! I knew next to nothing except what i read on the tag- cucumber like taste and attracts butterflies. It has started to flower and they are beautiful. Now I'm really excited to make tea- I'll try the 20 min steep also. WOW- very cool!

Angela McRae said...

Most interesting! I tried growing this from seed last year with no success, but perhaps it needs to go back on the list for next year!

Rosemary said...

Love borage! They have such a beautiful flower, although my mother always lamented that they hung their blossom down and you couldn't really see the flower unless you purposely lifted it up. I love to use the blossoms as an edible flower garnish. I remember making a chilled cucumber soup processing the leaves in the blender but can't seem to locate the recipe. The soup was tasty and refreshing. However, I've never made a tea with it. Interesting.

Alex Zorach said...

I've heard about borage being used for companion planting, but I don't know anything about this. I've never tried using it in companion planting because I prefer to use native plants only, besides plants that I use directly for food.

I did not know borage could be used as an herbal tea until I read this post...maybe I can try it, next time I see it growing somewhere. I've usually been more motivated to brew herbal teas from the more strongly-aromatic herbs, like those of the mint family.

SDQuilter said...

I have frozen the blossoms in little ice cubes to use in iced tea.