Borage is a traditional herb used as a diuretic, diaphoretic, and anti-inflammatory. It was also thought to relieve symptoms of melancholy. Borage is a native of the Mediterranean but is well adapted to growing in British soils.
These days, borage is rarely used in cooking or grown in the common herb garden. It is a beautiful plant with delicate blue flowers. The leaves, flowers and stalks of borage are edible, however borage is a voracious grower and can take over a garden very quickly. This has lead to a decline in its popularity as a garden plant and also as an ingredient in meals.
Using Borage in Cooking
Borage is a versatile herb in the kitchen; its leaves, stalk and flowers are edible. The young, fresh leaves have a mild cucumber taste and can be added to salads, used in stocks, soups and stews, or brewed to make a refreshing tea. You could also try adding them to sandwiches instead of lettuce, or chopping them and adding them to cream cheese or yogurt. When cooked, borage leaves may be used as a substitute to spinach. Don’t be put off by the fine white hairs on the leaves, as once in the mouth they quickly dissolve. They also disappear when cooked.
Borage flowers are beautiful and both look and taste fantastic in salads. They can also be preserved or candied. Why not try freezing some in ice cubes and adding them to drinks or simply floating the blooms in a glass of lemonade?
The stems of borage are used to flavour a number of alcoholic beverages, including Pimms No. 1. In Spain the stems are parboiled and fried in batter. Chopped up, they make a great addition to soups and can also be eaten raw; giving a hearty crunch to salads.
Borage Recipe Ideas
The flowers, stems and leaves of borage are edible and have many use in the kitchen. Use the flowers as a pretty addition to drinks, either floating on their own or frozen in ice cubes. They will also brighten up a salad; simply toss in the washed blooms after adding the vinaigrette.
The leaves have a mild cucumber taste. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads, chopped into cream cheese or yoghurt, added to stocks, soups and stews and used in place of lettuce in sandwiches. Older leaves are better cooked, and may be added to soups and stews and used in place of spinach. You could try making borage ravioli or borage curry, or a borage and ricotta pizza.
Use the stems chopped up in salads or in stocks, stews and soups. You could also try eating them like the Spanish; simply parboil them for two minutes then deep fry in batter. Eat immediately.
Borage is a fantastic, versatile herb that deserves to be used more in the kitchen. Its flowers will brighten up salads and make interesting decorations to drinks, and the young leaves can be used as a substitute for anything from lettuce to spinach.