Believed to have originated in Syria, today its widely cultivated throughout the world.
In all the countries bordering the Mediterranean, where it is plentiful, it is spelt with a double ‘r,’ so the word may be derived from the Italian borra, French bourra, signifying hair or wool, words which in their turn are derived from the Low Latin “Burra” in Latin means a “flock of wool.”.
‘Borage ego gaudia semper ago….I borage, bring always courage.’ Anon
Borage is the corruption of the Latin ‘corago‘ from ‘cor‘, the heart, and ‘ago‘, I bring. It could also be derived from the Celtic word ‘barrach‘ meaning “a man of courage“.
It has a reputation for bringing courage and optimism, relieving the heavy-hearted, easing the broken-hearted and brightening the dis-heartened.
The whole plant is rough with white, stiff, prickly hairs. The round stems, about 1 1/2 feet high, are branched, hollow and succulent; the leaves alternate, large, wrinkled, deep green, oval and pointed, 3 inches long or more, and about 1 1/2 inch broad, the lower ones stalked, with stiff, one celled hairs on the upper surfaces and on the veins below, the margins entire, but wavy. The flowers, which terminate the cells, are bright blue and star-shaped, distinguished from those of every plant in this order by their prominent black anthers, which form a cone in the centre and have been described as their beauty spot. The fruit consists of four brownish-black nutlets.
Borage is an annual herb and can be grown for its pure ornamental value, to attract much-coveted bees to your garden, and to harvest for teas and other summer drinks. Use the small new Borage leaves and the distinctive 1 1/2-inch star-shaped purple-blue flowers in hot and cold drinks, especially teas. Borage re-seeds readily in warmer climates.
It can be used either as a fresh vegetable or as a dried herb. As a fresh vegetable, borage with its cucumber-like taste, is often used in salads, in Pimms or as a garnish. The flower has a sweet honey-like taste and as one of the few truly blue-coloured edible substances is often candied and used to decorate cakes and desserts.It can also be used in companion planting. They say it helps protect legumes, spinach, brassicas, and even strawberries…
The borage plant is an herb indigenous to most European and Mediterranean countries. It has some interesting characteristics and medicinal uses, although be aware of the hazards before attempting to grow it or ingest any part of the plant.
Just looking at this gorgeous blue ‘starflower‘ lifts my spirits.
Borage (Borago officinalis), also known as a starflower, is an annual herb. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has naturalized in many other locales. It grows satisfactorily in gardens in the UK climate, remaining in the garden from year to year by self-seeding. The leaves are edible and the plant is grown in gardens for that purpose in some parts of Europe. The plant is also commercially cultivated for Borage seed oil extracted from its seeds.
The fresh herb has a cucumber-like fragrance.
The fresh flowers taste like honey. The leaves smell and taste like fresh cucumbers.
Health Benefits of Borage
The young leaves are high in potassium, calcium and Vitamin C, and they can be chopped up in a salad to help strengthen the nervous system. Wonderful amount of mineral acids, excellent tonic, blood purifier and refrigerant.
Diuretic, demulcent, emollient. Borage is much used in France for fevers and pulmonary complaints.
By virtue of its saline constituents, it promotes the activity of the kidneys and for this reason is employed to carry off feverish catarrhs.
Its demulcent qualities are due to the mucilage contained in the whole plant.
Externally, it is employed as a poultice for inflammatory swellings and bruises.
Borage oil is extracted from the seed of the flower. It is showing through studies that it is good for eczema, in addition, borage holds medicinal properties and Naturopathic practitioners use it for regulating the metabolism and the hormonal system, considering it to be a good remedy for PMS and the hot flushes that one gets.
Borage can also be used to alleviate and heal colds, bronchitis, and respiratory infections, and in general for its anti-inflammatory properties – the flowers can be prepared in infusion.
An inti-inflammatory effect is due to the potassium; stimulates cortical area of the adrenal glands thus helps the body produce natural cortisone and combats all inflammations.
Dating back to the Roman Empire, herbalists have used borage as a treatment for melancholia; also to promote gladness and courage.
Leaves and flowers of Borage kept in a fridge once picked without dew, sealed in a good plastic bag will keep for two days or longer; the leaves, and to a lesser extent, the flowers.
Gather the leaves when the plant is coming into flower. Strip them off singly and reject any that are stained and insect-eaten. Pick only on a fine day, when the sun has dried off the dew.
Can be frozen and stored in ice form for upto six months. (Handy in winter months.)
The flowers can be candied and made into a conserve; a excellent tonic for sickness, the distilled water was considered as effectual, and also valuable to cure inflammation of the eyes.
The juice in syrup was thought not only to be good in fevers, but to be a remedy for jaundice, itch and ringworm.
The seeds can be kept and sown. Used best fresh and correctly-either a fresh vegetable or a dried herb.
Apparently every part of the plant except the root is edible, although the leaves are best eaten young and tender.
Ideas with cooking with Borage
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the young tops of Borage were still sometimes boiled as a pot-herb, and the young leaves were formerly considered good in salads.
When steeped in water, it imparts a coolness to it and a faint cucumber flavour, compounded with lemon and sugar in wine, and water, it makes a refreshing and restorative summer drink.
The leaves and flowers can be used fresh in salad and delightful in fruit salad.
The leaves can also be steamed, but for a short time because they are so thin they will cook down quickly – or added to stew and soups at the last minute, an very appetising addition.
Using a handful of leaves and 500ml boiling water with a few flowers; steep tea several minutes; wonderfully calming; it has a very soothing taste, like chamomile, but with softer notes.(Super for flu and chest complaints, excellent for inducing sleep.)
Used often in gin drinks.
The flowers can be candied and used on cakes.
Baby leaves dipped in a seasoned batter then fried; is a wonderful vegetable for dinner and an easy favourite for families.
Flowers added to a punch and left floating is pleasing to the eye; due to their attractiveness.
Vegetable use of Borage is common in Germany, in the Spanish regions of Aragón and Navarra, in the Greek island of Crete and in the Italian northern region Liguria. Although often used in soups, one of the better known German Borage recipes is the Green Sauce (Grüne Soße) made in Frankfurt. In Italian Liguria, Borage is commonly used as filling of the traditional pasta ravioli and pansoti. The leaves and flowers were originally used in Pimms before it was replaced by mint or cucumber peel. It is used to flavour pickled gherkins in Poland.