Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Herb of the Week -- Borage!

It is Wednesday again and time to give you some rejuvenation for hump day.  So here is the herb-of-the-week a post where you will find some details on herbs that get you thinking creatively.  Now as you coast down into the weekend you have either a new herb on your list and something new to do with an herb you already know.
This week's herb is:  Borage (Borago officinalis)
Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb that is both ornamental and culinary.  It grows easily from seed and attracts bees.  It is a companion plant for strawberries.  The older the plant is in season the more coarse the leaves become so the best way to grow it is to sow seed in succession to give replacement crops throughout the season.  The plant grows 2 to 5 feet tall if given enough room and sun.  The most defining feature of borage is the blue buds it produces in drooping clusters that open to reveal pink to purple five-petal stars which will continue until the first frost of fall.  The leaves are ovate and hairy and can get up to 6 inches long.  It is draught resistant and adaptable to poor soil.
Medicinal properties
Borage is a natural and effective antidepressant. It is also rich in potassium. Juice from borage leaves and blossoms exerts a specific stimulating effect on the glandular system, which helps to overcome the "blue" feeling. Use the leaves and seeds to alleviate sadness, pensiveness, and melancholy.  It was once used to build courage.
Suggested as a remedy for melancholy, it stimulates, energizes and renews a zest for life. The young leaves can also be used to make a refreshing salad. Borage is a traditional herb used as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and anti-inflammatory. Borage is a native of the Mediterranean but is well adapted to growing in soils that are less than ideal.

These days, borage is rarely used in cooking or grown as a culinary herb.  The flowers are, however, edible as are the leaves. It is a beautiful plant with delicate ornamental flowers. The leaves, flowers and stalks of borage are edible, and as a voracious grower you can have many harvests.

Ways to use Borage
Make Flower Cubes
Borage flowers can be eaten.  Place rinsed and air dried flowers in individual ice cube tray compartments and cover with water.  Freeze completely.  Once frozen, pop the cubes and place in zip lock bags to use later.  They are perfect in fruit punch or iced tea.

Borage Cucumber Drink
Sprig of borage
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
Juice of 2-3 fresh limes
1/4 cup granulated sugar or more to taste
borage blossoms
Place the borage, cucumber, sugar and lime juice in blender with enough water to reach an inch or so below the top. Blend well. Strain and serve over ice. Garnish with a borage blossom.

Red, White and Blue Salad

3/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp. Course black pepper
1 tsp. White sugar
1 Tbls. Rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. Fresh chopped dill
1/8 tsp. Fresh grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. Finely grated red onion
1 English cucumber
3 garden fresh red tomatoes
10 borage flowers

Combine all the ingredients except for the tomatoes and flowers. Slice tomatoes and arrange them, overlapping, around the edge of a serving platter. Mound the cucumber mixture in the center of the platter, just covering the inner edge of the tomatoes. Chill well, and place the borage flowers decoratively on the salad just before serving.  Serves 4 to 6

Borage Fritters
1 cup ml flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 beaten egg
1/2 to 1 cup cooked, chopped borage leaves
1 Tbls. grated onion
oil or butter to fry
  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a basin.
  2. Make a well in the centre and stir in combined milk and egg to make a stiff batter.
  3. Add chopped, cooked borage leaves and grated onion.
  4. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the mixture in tablespoons, turning to brown both sides.
  5. Drain on brown paper and eat hot with mashed potatoes and grilled tomatoes.

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