How to plant borage?

Contents

Borage nutrition facts

Selection and storage

Borage should be fresh for use in salads and cooking. While buying from the markets look for fresh herb leaves with stout succulent stem and delicate cucumber flavor that can be appreciated from a short distance. Like in other greens such as spinach, borage can stay fresh only for a few hours and loses its flavor rather sooner. Unlike in other herbs like oregano, where dry herbs (leaves) and powder can be added to cuisine, dried borage leaves are out of flavor and therefore, avoided.

Avoid sunken, yellow or dried leaves as they are out of flavor and taste.

Once at home, store borage as you do it for spinach or like any other greens.

Preparation and serving methods:

Wash fresh herb in cold running water or rinse for a few minutes to remove any dirt or pesticide residues. The herb can be used in large quantities like other green vegetables. Remove tough leaves and stem using a paring knife.

Here are some cooking tips:

Mediterranean green sauce-salsa verde.
Photo courtesy: toyohara

  • Young tender borage leaves can add delicate cucumber flavor to the salads.

  • Mature but tender leaves can be employed as a green vegetable in much the same way as spinach. It mixes well with other greens, french beans, carrots, potato, tomato, etc.

  • Tender leaves used to make fresh juice with added lemonade.

  • Borage flowers are often mixed in batter and fried in oil to delicious fritters. They can also be candied.

  • Borage is one of the common ingredients along with parsley, chervil, chives, watercress, sorrel, and salad burnet in the preparation of traditional German green sauce.

  • Fresh herb can also be added to sausages, pizza and in poultry stuffing.

  • Borage tea is popular refreshing drink in the European countries.

Medicinal uses of borage herb

  • Borage herb parts, especially its seeds contain important health benefiting essential oil such as gamma-linolenic acid. This omega-6 fatty acid (18:3 fats) has recommended in the treatment of arthritis, dermatitis, pre-menstrual painful conditions, etc.

  • An infusion of leaves and seeds is used in traditional medicines to increase breast milk secretion in the nursing mothers.(Medical disclaimer)

Safety profile

The herb contains certain compounds in it which when taken in large quantities may affect kidney functions (possible diuretic effect). (Medical disclaimer).

<<-Back to Herbs from Borage. Visit here for an impressive list of all variety of herbs with complete illustrations of their nutrition facts and health benefits.

<<-Back to Home page.

Further Resources:

  1. Starflower- antioxidants-B. officinalis L.

  2. USDA National Nutrient Database.

Borage

Borago officinalis
Family: Boraginaceae
CTFA name: Borage (Borago Officinalis) Seed Oil
Return to herb list


Photo © Steven Foster

Introduction

Native to Great Britain, Europe, and North Africa, borage has naturalized (grows wild) in North America.1,2 Borage is a cucumber-flavored annual growing to 2 feet, with deep green leaves, and white, prickly hairs on the entire plant.3 The star-shaped flowers appear in summer, are blue or purple,1,3 and are followed by a fruit that contains four brownish-black nutlets.

History and Cultural Significance

Traditionally used for fevers, coughs, and depression, borage oil has also been used to induce sweating, as an expectorant, and as an anti-inflammatory agent.4

In Italy, borage was used as a remedy to increase breast milk in nursing mothers.5 Since the Middle Ages, Europeans claimed borage could cheer the heart and raise droopy spirits.6,7 The early Greeks also claimed borage had a reputation for making people merry. In the days of Crusaders, “I, Borage, bring always Courage” was the basis for tradition when men marched off to battle leaving their sweethearts behind.6,7 The motto possibly comes from the Latin word “corago” (courage), which rhymed with borago and fits accordingly with its reputation to bring about good spirits.6

In addition to being used for colds, rheumatism, and bronchitis, borage can be utilized as a culinary plant. Borage leaves can be cooked like spinach, or eaten in pickles and salads. Flowers can be used as an edible decoration for salads8 or mixed with the leaves in wines and lemon juice to flavor beverages.6

Modern Research

Borage seed oil contains 20-26% GLA (gamma-linolenic acid).9 Various diseases have been linked to a deficiency in GLA. Therefore, it is thought that GLA supplementation may help some of these ailments.

Preliminary research suggests that borage oil may be useful for soothing allergic inflammation of the skin and other skin irritations, as well as muscle problems.10

Future Outlook

Borage prospers in most soils, and self sows (spreads its seed) freely,11 although insect pollination is required for pollen transfer between plants in order to produce fertile seed.8 Production of seed oil has its limitations. The most significant drawback is the shattering of the seeds as they fall to the ground before they can be harvested.12 Another limitation is that crop yields can decrease by a third if sown a month late.13 Timing is crucial in seed production; the GLA content of seeds increase the later borage is harvested, however, the seeds tend to shatter upon late harvesting.

Currently, most borage oil comes from New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Canada.23 Increased interest in producing borage oil has led Canada to conduct field studies on borage and investigate its nitrogen fertility level, harvest index, and GLA content of the seed oil.8 Results of this study suggest the use of optimum nitrogen and early seeding for a profitable crop.

1 Williamson EM. Potter’s Herbal Cyclopaedia. Saffron Walden: C.W. Daniel Company Limited; 2003.

2 Bailey LH, Bailey, EZ. Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company; 1976.

3 Grieve M. A Modern Herbal. Vol II. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.; 1971.

4 Barnes J, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines. 2nd edition. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2002.

5 Bartram T. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine.1st edition. Dorset, UK: Grace Publishers; 1995.

6 DerMarderosian A, Beutler JA. The Review of Natural Products. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Facts and Comparisons; 2002.

7 Hill M., Barclay G. Southern Herb Growing. Fredericksburg, TX: Shearer Publishing; 1997.

9 Robbers JE, Tyler VE. Tyler’s Herbs of Choice: the Therapeutic Use of Phytomedicinals. New York: Haworth Herbal Press; 2000.

10 Henz BM, Jablonska S, Van de Kerkhof PCM, Stingl G, et al. Double-blind, multicentre analysis of the efficacy of borage oil in patients with atopic eczema. British Journal of Dermatology. 1999;140:685-688.

11 Bown D. Herb Update. Herbs. 1997;22:2.

12 Foster, Steven. Herbal Renaissance. Salt Lake City: Gibbs-Smith Publisher, 1993.


Herbs With Blue Flowers

blooming borage macro image by Tamara Kulikova from Fotolia.com

Many gardeners grow herbs primarily for culinary or medicinal uses. Some herbs, however, work equally well as ornamental garden plants and bring a range of blue shades to the garden palette. Many of them bloom in summer, at just the right time to bring a cooling accent to the landscape. In warm climates, some herbs with blue flowers grow as perennials and produce leaves that are available for cooking all year long.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is a sprawling annual herb native to the Mediterranean. Reaching as high as 3 feet, and as wide as 18 inches, borage has large, grayish-green leaves. Their cucumber-like taste makes them a good addition to salads, cold drink or cooked greens. Dried leaves, however, are tasteless. From June to August, the plant’s branches have pedicels (stalks) bearing drooping, star-shaped blue flowers. Borage prefers full sun to partial shade and fertile, well-drained soil. Sow seeds in the spring. Mature plants will self-sow and return each year.

Hyssop

Like borage, hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is native to the Mediterranean. This perennial is hardy to winter temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees F. Up to 2 feet high and 18 inches wide, it has an erect, bushy habit and fragrant, narrow, glossy-green leaves. From July to September, hyssop has dense spikes of blue-violet flowers. The lobed, fragrant blooms draw butterflies and bees. Hyssop leaves are traditional flavoring for meat, stews, salads and sauces. Hyssop oil flavors Chartreuse liqueur. Use this herb in herb or rock gardens, as a specimen plant, grouped in hedges or in containers. It likes a sunny to partly shady location–afternoon shade in hot places–with average, well-drained soil. Rich loam and regular watering are best, but plants can handle dry, sandy, infertile soil. Sow seeds in spring and prune plants back after flowering. Like borage, hyssop will self-sow.

Rosemary ‘Arp’

Manuel image by Jamacuko8 from Fotolia.com

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) tolerates winter temperatures as low as zero degrees F. In mild winter climates, it can grow 6 feet high and 4 feet wide. It’s an annual in colder areas. Dried or fresh, its aromatic, needle-fine green leaves are a culinary staple. They flavor vegetables, meat, fish, stews, vinegar, butter and baked goods. Oil of rosemary is a perfume and toiletry ingredient. Plants have tiny, fragrant white or pale blue flowers on old growth. ‘Arp,’ a rosemary variety native to Texas, has dark blue booms. Where it’s winter hardy, use rosemary in herb gardens, borders or as a foundation planting or hedge. Shape annual rosemary grown in containers as a topiary. Give plants full sun and light, averagely moist, well-drained soil. They suffer in heavy clay, and seldom survive wet winter roots.

BORAGO OFFICINALIS

Borago officinalis, commonly known as borage or starflower, is one of a host of herbs with origins in the Mediterranean region.

It’s a member of the Boraginaceae family of plants, which includes forget-me-not and heliotrope. Naturalized in the United States, it grows in a wild and weedy fashion, sporting its signature blue star blossoms, and fuzzy leaves and drooping buds.

Tasty and Beneficial

As an edible plant, it’s not only a pretty addition to a garden, but a functional one. The seeds, leaves, and flowers are often used in culinary and herbal applications.

Best eaten fresh, its tender young leaves and stems have a delicious cucumber-like flavor, and the flowers make tasty and attractive garnishes. Oil is derived from the seeds.

From a medicinal standpoint, B. officinalis is believed to possess beneficial emollient, diuretic, and sedative properties.

A Favorite of Pollinators

In addition to benefits to people, this herb provides a valuable source of nectar for bees – a noteworthy feature, considering our dwindling pollinator populations.

And, although each stunning flower blooms for only a day, the plant blooms continually throughout the summer months, providing a substantial pollen supply.

An annual by definition, B. officinalis behaves like a perennial. It is a self-sower that ensures its future by dropping seeds in autumn that germinate the following spring.

This is an adaptable plant that thrives in any soil, requires low to moderate moisture, and can withstand drought conditions.

It prefers full sun but tolerates partial shade, and may reach over two feet in height. For best results, start from seed.

Borago officinalis Plant Facts

  • Annual herb
  • Average to low moisture
  • Easy to grow
  • Full sun to part shade
  • Grows from seed
  • Introduced species
  • May reach over two feet in height
  • Well-drained soil
  • Zones 2 to 11

Where to Buy

Borago Officinalis Seeds

Borage seeds are available from True Leaf Market in 1-ounce and 4-ounce packages.

A Cheerful Companion

The ideal location for a plant like B. officinalis is a sunny meadow where it has room to spread, with no need to behave like a well-manicured ornamental plant. There’s nothing lovelier than a field of blue humming with happy bees.

And while I’m partial to native plants, I must admit that this introduced species has much to offer. In addition to being edible and medicinal, it is a good companion plant.

Do you have a strawberry patch, squash mound, or row of tomato cages?

Plant some borage between your plants to ward off the diseases and pests common to them. Just remember you’re sowing a vigorous grower, and don’t let it take over!

Is borage an herb that you grow for medicinal or culinary use? Let us know in the comments section below.

162shares

  • Twitter
  • Pinterest162

Product photo via True Leaf Market. Uncredited photos: .

The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.

About Nan Schiller

Nan Schiller is a writer with deep roots in the soil of southeastern Pennsylvania. Her background includes landscape and floral design, a BS in business from Villanova University, and a Certificate of Merit in floral design from Longwood Gardens. An advocate of organic gardening with native plants, she’s always got dirt under her nails and freckles on her nose. With wit and hopefully some wisdom, she shares what she’s learned and is always ready to dig into a new project!

Borage Herb: How To Grow Borage

The borage herb is an old fashioned plant that can get up to 2 feet or more. It is native to the Middle East and has an ancient history in war as an enhancement for bravery and courage. Growing borage provides the gardener with cucumber-flavored leaves for tea and other beverages as well as bright starry blue flowers for decorating salads. All parts of the plant, except the roots, are flavorful and have culinary or medicinal uses.

Borage Plant Info

While not as common as thyme or basil, borage herb (Borago officinalis) is a unique plant for the culinary garden. It grows quickly as an annual but will colonize a corner of the garden by self-seeding and reappearing year after year.

June and July are heralded by the presence of the borage flower, an appealing, small, brilliant blue bloom with attracting qualities. Indeed, the plant should be include in the butterfly garden and brings pollinators to your veggies. The oval leaves are hairy and rough with the lower foliage pushing 6 inches in length. The borage plant may grow 12 or more inches wide in a tall bushy habit.

Growing Borage

Herb cultivation just takes a little gardening know how. Grow borage in an herb or flower garden. Prepare a garden bed that is well tilled with average organic matter. Ensure that the soil is well drained and in a medium pH range. Sow seeds directly into the garden after the last date of frost. Plant seeds ¼ to ½ inch under the soil in rows 12 inches apart. Thin the borage herb to at least 1 foot when the plants measure 4 to 6 inches tall.

Planting borage with strawberries attracts bees and increases the yield of fruit. It has limited culinary use in today’s foods, but the borage flower is often used as a garnish. Traditionally the borage plant was used to treat many ailments, from jaundice to kidney problems. In medicinal use today it is limited, but the seeds are a source of linolenic acid. Borage flowers are also used in potpourris or candied for use in confections.

Borage can be perpetuated by allowing the flowers to go to seed and self sow. Pinching the terminal growth will force a bushier plant but may sacrifice some of the flowers. Borage herb is not a fussy plant and has been known to grow in refuse piles and highway ditches. Be assured you want the plant to regrow annually or remove the flowers before it seeds. Growing borage requires a dedicated space in the home garden.

Borage Herb Harvest

Sowing the seeds every four weeks will ensure a ready supply of borage flowers. The leaves may be picked at any time and used fresh. Dried leaves have little of the characteristic flavor so the plant is best consumed after harvest. Leave the flowers alone if you are hosting a honeybee colony. The blooms produce an excellent flavored honey.

Borago officinalis, aka (star flower)

With mass of bright blue flowers, borage attracts bees and other pollenators to the garden

What is Borage?

Borage is an easy growing hardy annual herb with striking blue flowers and leaves with a flavor similar to a cucumber.

Borage is often grown in vegetable gardens where it attracts pollinating bees and brings color to the garden landscape.

Borage is a good companion plant for many vegetables, including squash, tomatoes and strawberries. It can deter many garden pests including tomato horn worms, Japanese beetles, cabbage worms and moths. It can also improve the flavor of tomatoes growing nearby and stimulate the growth of strawberries.

While a borage is lesser known herb, it has many uses in the culinary herb garden.

Growing Borage in the Home Garden

Varieties of Borage

Borago officinalis is by far the most common type sold. It is one of the taller herbs, growing up to three feet tall and two feet wide. Covered in a coarse, hairy fuzz, the borage plant can cause skin irritation, so wear gloves during harvest time.

Often called the starflower, borage has five dark blue petals with a white ring in the center and dark black stamens. Borage will produce hundreds of flowers for three to four months in the summer.

The borage plant is covered in fine fuzzy hairs which serve to protect it from garden pests

Ideal Location for Growing Borage

Borage prefers a sunny location with rich well-drained soil. It will benefit from a well-dug planting location with added compost. It will grow in almost any type of soil, but the added compost will promote a healthy floral display. Grow borage in the back or along the sides of the veggie or herb garden to avoid getting pricked while you are harvesting other plants. Some type of staking or support system is occasionally needed when the plants are in full bloom.

Cultivation and Planting

It is best to direct sow borage where it will live in the garden since borage has a long taproot that can be damaged during transplanting. However, it can be sown indoors approximately 3-4 weeks before the last frost. Transplant seedlings when they are 3 inches tall and before they become ‘pot bound’. Barely cover seeds and don’t let the soil fully dry out. When seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, thin to between 12 and 18 inches apart.

Keep the soil evenly moist when plants are young and fertilize in the spring. Borage will self-seed, so if you grow it once, the following year, you may find new seedlings growing in the garden. If you find they are growing in unwanted areas, simply pluck them out when they are young and transplant them to another location. You can also give the new volunteers to friends who may want to try this versatile herb in their gardens.

Borage Plant Care

Plants in poor soil will benefit from periodic feeding with an organic fertilizer rich in phosphorus. This will help keep them in flower. Plants can be pinched or pruned, to encourage branching and to keep them shorter.

Once established, borage plants need very little ongoing care. They will continue to grow and bloom in the summer and fall garden for several months.

Problems

Borage is generally problem free

Where to Buy Borage Seeds

Borage seeds can occasionally be found for sale in specialty garden centers. You can also find seeds for sale through online retailers. Burpee Gardening, Urban Farmer and CooksGarden.com all sell borage seeds in the early spring. Prices range from $2 to $4.00 for a packet of seeds. Some stores sell out of popular seeds by early summer, so it’s a good idea to purchase early when you are planning your garden.

Harvesting Borage in the Home Garden

Borage self seeds freely often returning in the garden year after year.

Harvest leaves and flowers as needed. The best time to harvest the leaves is when the plant is young, before the buds have started to flower. Older leaves will get prickly, making harvesting anything on the plant a bit unpleasant.

Borage is open pollinated, and it is very easy to collect the seed from flowers if they are allowed to remain on the plant and turn brown. Borage self-seeds readily, if allowed to go to seed naturally.

Drying Borage Leaves

Spread the leaves in a thin layer on a cookie sheet and then dry in a cool oven or a well-ventilated airy location. Wait until the leaves are dry to the touch, but retain their green color. They should be ready in about two weeks.

If you want to dry the leaves quicker, you can heat the oven to a low temperature, about 180 degrees. They should be ready in a few hours. Check them every half hour to avoid over-cooking the leaves.

Store them in a sealed airtight container for up to a year.

Cooking with Borage

Both the leaves and flowers of the borage plant are edible, making it a very versatile herb. Both have a delicate cucumber flavor, so they combine nicely with many dishes.

Borage Leaves in Cooking

Saute or steam borage leaves and eat them like spinach. The stems can also be peeled and eaten raw or cooked similar to celery. The taste is milder than spinach and celery, so can be added to many salads.

Culinary Uses of Borage Flowers

The borage flower adds a bit of flavor and a great deal of color to salads, soups, dips & spreads. They can also be used as a pretty garnish to open face sandwiches or as a cake topping. As with all edible flowers, use sparingly until you know how they affect you. Borage is said to have a mild laxative effect, so enjoy them in moderation.

Making Borage Tea

The flowers can also brew into a tea by themselves or with other herbs. To make borage tea:

  1. Gently mash about ¼ cup borage leaves (per serving) with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Place in a liquid measuring cup and pour 1 cup boiling water over the leaves. Allow to steep for 5 minutes
  3. Strain the leaves with a sieve or cheesecloth and pour into a teacup.

Tip: Add freshly picked mint leaves for a cooling minty borage tea.

Freezing Borage Flowers

Freezing borage flowers in ice cubes make a pretty statement in lemonade or raspberry iced tea.

  1. Simply fill ice cube trays ¾ full.
  2. Add a single flower to each cube.
  3. Allow to freeze, then store in plastic bags.

Candied Borage Flowers

Candid borage flowers are pretty when used as a topping in cake decorations, cookies, and other baked sweets. You can store theses flowers in an airtight container until they are needed.

  1. Gently rinse the flowers, then allow them to dry.
  2. Remove the dark sepals from the flowers
  3. Combine 1 egg white with a few drops of water, beating lightly
  4. Paint the flower petals with the egg white mix using a small paintbrush.
  5. Holding the flowers by their stems, sprinkle them with a superfine sugar
  6. Arrange on cookie sheets lined with wax paper and allow to dry completely about 12-36 hours

Tip: When harvesting borage flowers for candy making, it’s easiest to leave a bit of stem, so they are easier to handle. You can remove the excess stem before serving.

Borage Uses in Herbal Medicine and Health Benefits

Borage has many uses in herbal medicine

One of the common uses of borage is as a diuretic. Borage contains the diuretics malic acid and potassium nitrate. Diuretics work by helping your body get rid of sodium and water. This in turn reduces the amount of water flowing through your blood vessels and can reduce pressure on the artery walls. Diuretics are commonly used to treat high blood pressure, kidney disorders and edema.

The high mucilage content in borage has many medicinal applications. Mucilage is gel like substance secreted by many plants, most well known is the aloe plant. It can help to soothe a sore throat. A soothing tea can be prepared to help treat the pain associated with ailments such as bronchitis.The leaves of the borage plant can be used as a poultice to treat bruises, swelling, and inflammation. They are also used in facial steams when treating dry skin.

The Benefits of Borage Seed Oil

Borage seed is a rich source of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), an omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. According to an article in Whole Health Chicago, borage oil is quite often used in place of evening primrose oil, however, borage oil has more than twice as the GLA and therefore the healing benefits.

Borage seed oil has many medicinal uses. Here are just a few:

  • Reduce aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Relieve the symptoms of PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  • Reducing stress and protect against high blood pressure
  • A treatment for gout
  • Treatment of sore throats, coughs and upper respiratory infections

Borage seed oil is available in many holistic or health food stores. When using the borage oil as a supplement, be sure to follow the manufacturers recommended doses.

In Summary

As you can see, the borage plant is a delight to have in the herb garden. Whether you choose to grow borage as a companion plant, for its healing powers, culinary uses or just for its beauty alone, every herb gardener should make a little room to grow borage.

Shop for Borage Seeds at Burpee.com

Last updated by Virginia Dodd at February 12, 2019.

Consider Adding Borage To Your Garden

Borage is a plant I like to have in my gardens. Not just because it can be eaten, (which it can) or used for medicinal purposes (which it also can), but because it works wonderfully at attracting beneficial insects and at adding nutrients back into the garden.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual that can either be directly sown outdoors in late spring or started earlier indoors and then transplanted. If you wish to have borage in a certain location in your garden, it is best to start it indoors and then transplant. The plant has a long taproot and is best sown in a fiber pot, which can then be placed directly into the ground as the seedling matures. Borage likes full sun to part shade and has no special soil needs. It is a resilient plant and can withstand either extended wet or dry periods. A mature plant is rather bushy, so take into account its mature height (3 ft) and spread (2ft) when planning its future location. It’s growth habit also makes it susceptible to being blown over by the wind.

Although an annual, borage will readily reseed itself. Each year I have a handful of volunteer seedlings that pop up throughout my gardens. I tend to leave only one or two to grow where they wish so long as they are not in an inconvenient location. The others I pull up and add to the compost pile. Because it proficiently reseeds itself, you may find you need to only introduce borage to your garden once.

Borage for Beneficial Insects

The blossoms of borage protrude above its large leaves and are easy for pollinators to spot. The blue, star-shaped flowers continue blooming throughout the summer, providing a continuous source of nectar for pollinators. Bees in particular visit borage often because they find the blue hue particularly attractive. Borage has the nickname of bee plant and is placed in pollinator gardens. It works well as a companion plant to strawberries, tomatoes, and squashes. It can grow up to 3 feet in height and its tempting blue blossoms dangle above its companions, luring pollinators to itself and its neighboring plants.

Predatory insects are also drawn to borage. The large, oval-shaped leaves have a fuzzy coating and are excellent locations for these insects to hide. Lacewings will choose it as a host for their eggs. In contrast, the insects we consider pests in our gardens tend to be repelled by borage. Deer don’t like borage either – too fuzzy.

-Advertisement-

Edible Borage

The leaves and flowers both have a light cucumber flavour. The flowers are delicious eaten raw in salads, frozen into ice cubes, candied as decorations for cakes, and used anywhere a cucumber flavour is desired. The fresh leaves also make a refreshing tea when combined with honey and lemon. Blossoms can be harvested throughout the summer. The leaves are best eaten young, prior to developing their fuzziness and can also be eaten raw in salads.

Borage Makes Wonderful Compost

Borage is a member of the Boraginaceae family and is related to comfrey. Like comfrey it has a deep taproot that can mine nutrients too deep for other plants to reach. It pulls these nutrients into its leaves, where they continue to accumulate until the plant dies, and through decomposition, the nutrients are once made available to other plants. It’s relative, comfrey, is a popular plant for enhancing compost and for making compost teas. Borage too, produces a lot of aboveground biomass that accumulate nutrients, and is also a valuable compost ingredient and itself makes a potent compost tea. An alternative is to skip the compost pile and treat borage as a green manure. Allowing it to grow, which will aerate the soil, and then tilling it into the soil to slowly releases its nutrients and increases tilth.

Borage as Herbal Medicine

Fresh borage leaves and blossoms are ingredients in herbal medicine and the oil extracted from the seeds has herbal properties as well. Traditionally, herbalists looked to borage tea as a multipurpose tonic that could reportedly speed healing, reduce stress, relieve fevers, promote lactation, soothe digestive issues, and ease throat and chest infections. Furthermore, chopped up fresh leaves could be made into a poultice for skin irritations or used as an infusion and gargled for sore throats.

If you don’t already have borage, why not consider adding it to your garden? If you already have it growing, why not discover the myriad uses of this beautiful and multifaceted plant?

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

-Advertisement-

Something really strange happened when the world became obsessed with manicured lawns and monoculture gardens: We started to lose touch with some great plants — weeds — that are insanely useful to have around. In permaculture, as well as other similarly sustainable gardening systems, there has been a resurgence in appreciation for diversity and the intrinsic value found in so many plants we have, for years, been quick to pull and discard.

Borage, though not the most recognizable of useful (and edible) weeds, is an absolutely fantastic plant to include in the garden. It works especially well in permaculture systems because, once gardens are in place, nature is allowed to flourish as its own ecosystem, rather than something especially weeded and pruned. Borage, in precise gardens, however, is known to be invasive and difficult to control.

Advertisement

On the other hand, if people only knew a bit more about borage, they might be more likely to welcome its arrival.

It’s Very Delicious

Borage is edible, big time. Not only can we eat the flowers, but the leaves are also delicious. It is best to pick them young, before they get prickly, and they can be eaten raw in salads. Regardless, the leaves are a bit fuzzy and have a flavor reminiscent of cucumbers. The leaves can also be used to make tea. The flowers, too, are delicious, not to mention absolutely stunning. They can be collected as décor for cakes and desserts, or they can be tossed into salads for an attractive visual addition.

  • Note: Pregnant women should not eat borage.

It’s a Great Companion

IADK/Flickr

Advertisement

Permaculture is all about grouping plants together so that they can benefit each other. Borage is a great companion plant for many of our favorite crops, including strawberries, tomatoes, and squash. Essentially, borage is known as an accumulator plant, pulling up trace minerals and nutrients from deep in the soil and depositing them onto the ground’s surface, where plants with shallow roots can get them. This is reputed to improve the flavor of crops, and it definitely helps them grow. So, not only can borage be eaten, but it helps to produce other food. Plus, it deters many pest insects and attracts good insects.

It’s Good in Compost

“Dynamic accumulators,” plants that pull lots of nutrients up from the soil and deposit them on the surface, are also great for compost. In permaculture, comfrey (another accumulator) has a bigger reputation, but borage can also be added to compost to provide a huge boost in nutrients and to activate decomposition process. Plants like this can be used in place of animal manure and provide the boost in fertility we hope to get from our compost. We can even use comfrey or borage to make nutrient-rich teas to water plants with.

Advertisement

It’s a Bee Magnet

Agricology/Flickr

Advertisement

Some plants just do better in the birds and bees categories, and borage — with its icy blue flowers and soft, supple leaves — just has the bees crawling all over it. Not only is this a good thing for the garden, helping with pollinating the other plants that are around, but it’s a good thing for the planet, which has a bee population that is decreasing rapidly. The more plants we can provide that keeps bees happily buzzing about, the better for us all. They are responsible for pollinating much of the fruit and veg we eat.

It’s Not Bad to Look At

It seems strange, but in all that effort to grow specific garden plants, we as a society decided certain flowers weren’t good enough. Dandelions, a wildly useful plant, gets pulled and tossed aside as if an old rag. Borage is much the same. In reality, though, it has beautiful blue flowers, lots of them, that have a unique star shape. Additional, it has distinctive leaves covered in soft fuzziness. The plants are large and fill the space in a very pleasant way, ultimately yielding themselves over into an easily pulled addition to the compost or low-maintenance garden mulch.

One of the great things about permaculture (and other agriculture methods that are focused on diverse productivity) is that we get to revisit plants that have somewhat been disrespected and often tossed to the side as nuisances, when they are the very ones we should be celebrating. Borage is one of those special plants, and it’s a good addition to a healthy, diverse garden.

Lead image source: matteo sani/

Advertisement

Connect With Us!

PHOTO: Tracy/Flickrby Dawn Combs November 4, 2015

Time of year, I usually have ended my walks out to the garden. I’m typically so busy that I haven’t had time to put in a late-season crop or think about extending the harvest into winter. This year, I’ve managed to change all of that!

Here in Ohio we’ve had a number of light and killing frosts. I’ve wandered out to see what damage mother nature has done to my crops—it’s been my little experiment to see what remains viable under these conditions. At some point rather soon, I’m going to have to strategize what can be done to keep the harvest going when the ground freezes. That won’t happen for another couple months, though, so I can still act as though my garden is alive and productive.

So far, my carrots and beets are still wonderful fresh additions to the dinner table. I also put in a large stand of parsley and cilantro. Some of my cilantro was trying to go to seed before the frosts hit. They look a little sad, but the plants that were still primarily greenery are making it indoors for late-season chips and salsa on movie night. My parsley is a bit deflated, but hanging in there. I love to eat the leaves in my morning smoothies, and they go well with the apples that are at their best right now. Lotus Johnson/Flickr

Two plants have surprised me more than any others. I took my apprentices out to dig roots yesterday, and stumbled upon a row of chamomile. Chamomile! In November! I expected that these delicate-looking flowers would long ago have been toast, but no! There they stand with their cheery yellow centers demonstrating tangibly that even the most gentle medicine can be powerful. The other plant that has surprised me is the borage.

“I, borage, bring courage.” I remembered the saying as I looked over the ruin of my garden. Where lie the brown, deflated remains of my tomato plants there can be found a new crop of blue star-shaped flowers rising above the hardy, fuzzy leaves of the borage plants.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is an adrenal tonic and mood lifter. The leaves reek of cucumber when you bruise them. It is jarring to smell that in a time that we are thinking of pumpkin spice, sage and sweet potatoes. I can only assume that these leaves, which feel much like the tongue of a cat, are working their prickly fur coats for all the protection they can provide. I have several pounds of borage out in my late-fall garden that I can harvest right now and put in front of the fire to dry.

I plan to harvest my borage and remember next year that I don’t need to rush quite so much to get everything into the garden at once. Borage is courageous in the face of the coming cold and can wait its turn. It’s still providing food for my honey bees as they batten down the hatches. I’m sure they are as thrilled as I am to see these plants thriving. Perhaps borage will give me a deeper level of adrenal support this winter, keeping away the winter blahs every time I sip the tea and think of my brave winter garden holdout.

An infusion of Borage leaves is nature’s best tonic for stress and stress related problems. The leaves contains vitamin C and are rich in calcium, potassium and mineral salts.

European herbalists use borage as an adrenal tonic to balance and restore the health of the adrenal glands following periods of stress.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is a lovely garden plant, with small bright blue flowers and an informal growth habit, reaching a height of 60cm. It is waterwise, easily growing in poor soil in a sunny spot. Although an annual it seeds itself, coming up year after year.

Borage is an ancient herb associated with courage. In medieval times it was infused in wine as a tonic to banish melancholy.

Medicinal Uses for Borage

Just looking at the list of Borage’s properties should convince you that it is a herb you can’t be without. It is a cooling, cleansing and refreshing herb with adaptogenic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant and anti-inflammatory properties.

European herbalists use borage tea to restore strength during convalescence. The leaves are used as an adrenal tonic to balance and restore the health of the adrenal glands following periods of stress.

It is of particular benefit during recovery from surgery or following steroid treatment.

A tea made from the leaves and flowers also promote lactation, relieve fevers, and promote sweating. It will also cure a hangover. The soothing mucilage in borage makes it a beneficial treatment for dry cough, throat irritation, chest colds and bronchitis. Borage tea is also a good remedy for such digestive disturbances as gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

A poultice of crushed Borage leaves will relieve insect bites and stings, reduce swelling and bruising and is also helpful for clearing up boils and rashes.

To make an infusion pour one cup of boiling water over a quarter of a cup of bruised fresh leaves. Steep for five minutes and strain. The infusion can also be used as a gargle for sore throats and for tired eyes.

To make a poultice chop fresh borage leaves and stems in sufficient quantity to cover the area being treated. Cover with a strip of cotton gauze to hold the poultice in place. The poultice is soothing and healing to skin inflammations, though the prickly hairs may be irritating.

No known side effects have been reported when borage preparations are taken internally in appropriate forms and in therapeutic dosages. External contact with fresh borage leaves may cause skin rashes in sensitive persons.

No interactions between borage and standard pharmaceutical preparations have been reported.

Take better care of yourself and your family, naturally. Enroll in the herbal medicine making e-course.

Bath and Beauty Uses

If you have dry skin, and most of us have in winter, try this recipe.

Beat together 1 egg yolk, 10 ml of almond oil and 7g. of fresh yeast, or use dried yeast mixed with a little warm water to make a paste. Add 15 ml of strong borage infusion, made by pouring 250 ml of boiling water on to 45 ml of crushed or chopped leaves. Smooth the mixture on to the skin and leave for 10 minutes. Wash it off with warm water, pat dry and apply moisturiser.

Companion Planting with Borage

Borage is traditionally grown in cottage gardens, both as a culinary herb and because bees loves the flowers, yielding an excellent honey.

It is a good companion plant and mulch for most plants, being an excellent source of minerals, especially calcium and potassium. In particular , borage and strawberries help each other and strawberry farmers always set a few plants in their beds to enhance the fruits flavour and yield. Borage is also a good companion for tomatoes – both seem to improve in growth and disease resistance when planted near each other.

I use the decorative flowers in salads, punches and desserts. The leaves have a light cucumber taste. Cook like spinach or add to spinach, add to bean and pea soups, use with fish or make Borage fritters by dipping the leaves in batter and frying until crisp. Add shredded leaves to salad or mix with cream cheese and gherkins for a dip or sandwich filling.

We like to impress our guests with exotic sounding recipes containing borage such as La Salade de PlusieursHerbes, Gruene Sauce and Acquacotta di Verdure.

In plain English these fancy names mean a “mixed herb salad”, a “green sauce” and “cooked water with greens.” But we never tell our guests that.

Your doorway into the fascinating world of the family herbalist. Learn how to use herbs and natural medicine to treat everyday ailments and to live more healthy and naturally. 289 SharesBorage and cucumber is a match made in heaven. But there’s a lot more you can do with borage.

Beverages and Drinks with Borage

To flavour a glass of tomato juice or cocktail add 1 tablespoon minced young borage leaves. Add borage flowers when serving alcoholic drinks and fruit drinks. Especially good with a claret cup. Add borage leaves and flowers to hot or iced tea or lemonade.

Borage Wine Cup
Makes about 2 liter
125ml brandy
30ml castor sugar
750ml bottle dry white wine
125ml orange juice
250ml crushed ice
750ml bottle pink champagne
250ml lemonade
250ml ginger ale
250ml chopped fresh borage leaves
Borage flowers to garnish (optional)

  1. Blend brandy, sugar, wine, juice and ice until combined.
  2. Combine champagne, lemonade, ginger ale, borage and wine mixture in large bowl just before serving.
  3. Decorate with borage flowers.

Borage Ice Blocks
Half fill ice block trays with cold water and freeze solid. Remove from freezer and tip out the half blocks. Put a borage flower into each division, replace the half blocks and top them up with water. The flower is then trapped between the water and the ice. When the tray is returned to the freezer the borage flower will be set in the middle of the ice block. Otherwise the flowers tend to float to the top.

Borage-Flavoured Lemonade
¼ cup lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons sugar
3-4 medium-sized borage leaves
2 cups water

  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for approximately 30 seconds. Strain into a tall glass, and garnish with borage flowers.

Strawberry and Borage Cocktail
4-5 borage leaves
250ml dry vermouth
450ml orange juice
450ml soda water
450ml ginger ale
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 punnet small strawberries

  1. Lightly crush borage with mortar and pestle.
  2. Place in a large punch bowl and add all other ingredients, except strawberries; chill.
  3. Clean and prepare strawberries and float in a punch bowl just before serving.

Get more herbal beverage recipes…

Desserts with Borage

To Candy Borage Flowers
Pick the borage flowers, each with a small stem, when they are quite dry. Paint each one with lightly beaten egg white, using a water colour paintbrush. Dust them lightly with castor sugar and set to dry on waxed paper in a warm place like an airing cupboard or in a very cool oven.

Tropical Fruit Salad with Lime Syrup
Make a mixture of fruit e.g. Passion fruit, kiwi fruit, pineapple, selection of berries, paw paw, melon, water melon. Combine fruit in a large bowl. Add lime syrup, toss gently to combine, cover, refrigerate for several hours, even overnight.

Lime Syrup
125 ml lime juice
125 ml sugar
60 ml chopped fresh borage leaves

  1. Combine juice and sugar in small saucepan, stir over heat without boiling, until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer, uncovered without stirring for 5 minutes, cool.
  3. Stir in borage.

Preserves with Borage

Add flowers to herbal vinegar as a dye and for a slight cucumber flavour.

Borage Jelly
A great spread with cream cheese and crackers.

6 cups borage leaves and flowers parts soaked in a 4 cups of cold water overnight, drain
4 cups of borage infused water
4 ½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon lemon
1 pack commercial pectin
a pinch of salt and red pepper

  1. Cook according to commercial pectin direction.

Click to view more herb recipes.

Salads with Borage

Red, White and Blue Salad
1 medium cucumber
3 medium vine ripened tomatoes
¾ cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon course black pepper
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped dill leaves
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon finely grated red onion
salt to taste
borage flowers togarnish

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

Mixed Herb Salad (La Salade de Plusieurs Herbes)
Adapted from a 16th century French translation of a book originally written in Latin in 1474.

2 heads lettuce
1 handful young, tender borage leaves
1 handful chopped fresh mint leaves
1 handful fresh lemon-balm leaves
1 handful tender fennel shoots and flowers
1 handful fresh chervil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon oregano or marjoram flowers and leaves
salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar

  1. Wash the lettuce and herbs well, dry them and place them in a large dish.
  2. Sprinkle with salt, add the oil and finally the vinegar.
  3. Let the salad stand a while before serving.
  4. Eat the salad heartily, crunching and chewing well.
    To serve 6

Borage and Cucumbers
3 large cucumbers
200ml sour cream
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon celery seed
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup fresh, young borage leaves (chopped finely)

  1. Slice the cucumbers thinly. Salt lightly and set aside in a colander for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients, add the cucumbers to the mixture, and toss lightly.
  3. Garnish with borage blossoms.
  4. Chill for one hour before serving.

Get more salad recipes featuring herbs…

Sauces with Borage

Cucumber Sauce
Serve with fish salads, fried seafood and green salads

1 cucumber
2 shallots
5 ml soy sauce
salt and pepper
10 ml lemon juice
5 ml orange or lemon rind
5 ml made mustard
a dash of cayenne
20 ml chopped borage leaves
125 ml mayonnaise

  1. Grate the cucumber and shallots. Add all other ingredients and blend in electric blender.Makes ± 375 ml

Frankfurter Gruene Sauce (Frankfurter Green Sauce)
3 cups mixed herbs (parsley, chives, chervil, borage, dill, spinach greens, watercress, tarragon, basil, pimpernel)
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
2 small onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
¾ cup low-fat cottage cheese (pressed through a fine sieve in order to smooth curds)
ground white pepper
small pinch of sugar
1 to 2 eggs, hardboiled and coarsely chopped

  1. Choose all or merely a selection of the herbs and greens mentioned in the list of ingredients (using the tarragon more sparingly than the others). Wash them thoroughly and drain on paper towels.
  2. Coarsely chop the greens; loosely packed, they should amount to about 3 cups altogether.
  3. Take 2 cups of the greens, combine with the sour cream or yogurt and the onions, and puree in the blender or processor; add a few tablespoons of cream if it doesn’t seem to be fluid enough.
  4. The rest of the greens should just be finely chopped and stirred in a mixing bowl with the puree in order to give the sauce a little bite.
  5. Stir in as much mayonnaise and low-fat cottage cheese as it takes to produce a smooth, creamy sauce.

Season with salt, pepper, and a little sugar. The hardboiled eggs can either be mixed in with the sauce or strewn over it as a garnish.
Makes 2 to 3 cups

Get more sauce recipes featuring herbs…

Soups with Borage

Add one tablespoon young freshly chopped leaves to every 4 cups beet, cabbage, green pea or spinach soup

Acquacotta di Verdure – Cooked Water with Greens
Acquacotta literally means cooked water. It is generally served as a one coarse meal and in the past was eaten by shepherds and stockmen. There are as many versions as there are cooks.

A loaf of day-old Italian bread
1 cup potatoes, peeled and cubed
500 g ripe tomatoes, chopped (and peeled, if you like)
500 g spinach washed and coarsely chopped
500 g vegetables such as peas, beans, bell peppers or whatever else is in season
Bouquet garni of minced borage, marjoram, thyme, parsley
125 ml extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Fill a fairly large pot ¾ full of water and add the vegetables and herbs. Season with a little salt and cook for about 40 minutes.
  2. When the vegetables have finished cooking, cut the bread into thick slices. Dip each in the pot, let it drain, and put it in a bowl.
  3. Spoon some vegetables and a bit of the vegetable broth over the slices, drizzle some olive oil over them, and serve them with freshly ground pepper.

Get more soup recipes featuring herbs…

Vegetables with Borage

Borage flowers makes an attractive edible garnish and may be added to any green or fruit salad to taste. Young finely chopped borage leaves may be added to any green salad, but do not add too much because of their hairy texture. Especially good with beans, green peas and spinach.

Borage Leaves as a Vegetable
Wash young borage leaves and remove stalks. Chop finely and cook in a little butter in a covered saucepan over a very low heat. Season to taste. The dampness of the washed leaves should be enough to keep them from sticking to the bottom; they should soon be tender and their hairy texture disappears when cooked.

Try to combine the borage leaves with cabbage or spinach using about one-third borage leaves to two-thirds cabbage or spinach and cook in the same way.

It is makes a great ‘marog’.

Borage Fritters
250 ml flour
8 ml baking powder
salt
125 ml milk
1 beaten egg
125 ml – 250 ml cooked, chopped borage leaves
15 ml 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.

Click to download your guide to culinary creativity based on 1300+ classic flavour combinations.

You can grow borage in minutes. Borage is a decorative herb festooned in summer with clusters of intensely blue star-shaped flowers. The leaves and flowers of borage taste like cucumbers. The flowers can be floated in summer drinks and candied for decoration. The leaves can be used in salads, sandwiches, and desserts or sautéed like spinach. Borage is not a finicky herb; it will grow in most gardens as long as the soil is well drained.

Get to Know Borage

  • Botanical name and family: Borago officinalis (Boraginaceae—forget-me-not family)
  • Origin: Southern Europe and Western Asia
  • Type of plant: Borage is a warm-season annual herb; however, sometimes flowers do not appear until the second year—making borage a sometimes biennial.
  • Growing season: Summer
  • Growing zones: Grow borage in zones 3 to 10.
  • Hardiness: Borage tolerates heat and cool weather but will not survive a hard frost.
  • Plant form and size: Borage grows 1 to 3 feet tall and wide; it is shrubby with branching stems.
  • Flowers: Borage has intensely blue, star-shaped flowers that grow in drooping clusters at the tips of stems; flower buds have a silvery sparkle from ubiquitous white hairs.
  • Bloom time: Borage blooms from early summer until the first frost in fall.
  • Leaves: Borage has grey-green oval leaves that grow 4 to 5 inches; the leaves have a rough-textured surface covered with stiff velvety hairs.

How to Plant Borage

  • Best location: Plant borage in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade.
  • Soil preparation: Grow borage in well-drained but moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to the planting bed and turn it under to 12 inches before planting. Borage will grow in poor soil or alkaline soil as long as it is well-drained. Borage prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
  • Seed starting indoors: Borage can be started from seed indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost. Start seed in biodegradable pots that can be set in the garden to avoid root disruption. Seeds germinate in 7 to 10 days.
  • Transplanting to the garden: Transplant borage seedlings to the garden after the last frost in spring. Borage quickly develops a taproot so be careful when transplanting to not damage the root.
  • Outdoor planting time: Sow borage seed in the garden after the average last frost date in spring when the soil has warmed. Sow seed where it will grow; borage is difficult to transplant. The seed must be covered for germination. Seeds can also be sown in the garden in fall; seeds will germinate the following spring.
  • Planting depth: Sow borage seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep.
  • Spacing: Thin plants from 18 to 24 inches apart once they are 6 to 8 inches tall. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
  • How much to plant: Grow 1 borage plant for cooking; grow 2 to 4 plants for tea or preserving.
  • Companion planting: Plant borage near basil, leeks, pumpkins, kale, nasturtiums, pansies, marigolds, and parsley. Borage is said to strengthen the pest and disease resistance of plants growing nearby, particularly strawberries. Honeybees love borage. Plants will attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. Borage is said to deter cabbage worms.

How to Grow Borage

  • Watering: Borage requires even regular water until established. Once established the soil can dry out between waterings.
  • Feeding: Borage does not require feeding; avoid soil rich in nitrogen or plants may not bloom. Fertilize with compost tea or a dilute solution of fish emulsion to give flowering plants a boost.
  • Mulching: Mulch around borage to keep foliage off of the ground where it may rot.
  • Pruning: Pinch back plants when 6 inches tall to encourage bushiness. You can prune back borage by one-half in midsummer; this will encourage new tender leaves for late summer harvest
  • Care: Keep planting beds well weeded to avoid competition for moisture. Tall plants may require staking or support. Remove faded flowers to prolong blooming.
  • Container growing: Borage grows easily in containers. Choose a container 12 inches deep and wide or larger; borage forms a taproot.
  • Winter growing: Borage is an annual that will die back in freezing weather. In mild-winter regions, borage may survive the winter to flower again next summer.

Troubleshooting Borage

  • Pests: Japanese beetles are sometimes attracted to borage and will eat the leaves. Japanese beetles can be controlled with neem oil or excluded by covering plants with a floating row cover.
  • Diseases: Borage can be susceptible to root rot in constantly wet soil otherwise it has no serious disease problems. Fungal leaf spot may occur; spray plants with compost tea to control fungal diseases.

How to Harvest Borage

  • When to harvest: Snip fresh, young leaves in spring and summer as needed. Harvest young leaves before they develop bristly hairs. Older bristly leaves can be coarse. Flowers can be snipped individually or in clusters as soon as they open.
  • How to harvest: Cut or snip leaves and flowers with a garden snip or scissors.

Borage in the Kitchen

  • Flavor and aroma: Borage leaves and flowers have a cucumber-like flavor, cool and fresh-tasting with a slight saltiness. Add borage to any dish where you want cucumber flavor such as green salads. Use borage leaves and stems as a flavoring.
  • Leaves: Use young borage leaves raw, steamed or sautéed in butter like spinach. Steamed leaves can be eaten as a vegetable. The furry coating on leaves disappears when steamed. Mince young leaves in yogurt or over soups, salads, curries, fish, and chicken dishes. Leaves and flowers enhance cheese, fish, poultry, eggs, most vegetables, green salads, ice beverages, pickles, and salad dressing. Use leaves to make flavored vinegar. Use mature leaves sparingly; they can be toxic when ingested in large quantities.
  • Flowers: Add fresh borage flowers to salads or sandwiches. Flowers can be floated in drinks or candied for use on cake, ice cream, and other desserts. Freeze flowers in ice cubes or drop freshly picked flowers in drinks.
  • Stems: You can eat borage stems peeled and chopped like celery.

Preserving and Storing Borage

  • Borage leaves can be frozen or dried, but the flavor is best when leaves are used fresh.
  • Refrigeration: Leaves and stems can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days in a sealed plastic bag wrapped in a damp paper towel.
  • Drying: Dry leaves and flowers in the microwave (a single layer on paper towels, microwaved 1 to 3 minutes) or in the refrigerator on a baking sheet covered with paper towels. You can air-dry leaves and flowers: place them in a mesh bag and hang them in a cool, dry place or put them in an uncovered bowl and stir the leaves daily until they dry.
  • Freezing: Place leaves in a plastic bag to freeze. Leaves and flowers also can be frozen in ice cubes. Drop an ice cube with a frozen borage flower inside into lemonade or other clear drinks.

Propagating Borage

  • Seed: Borage readily reseeds; transplant volunteers before they develop taproots. Direct sow seeds in late spring.

Borage Varieties to Grow

  • Common borage (Borago officinalis): is the most familiar borage described above.
  • Variegata (Borago officinalis ‘Variegata’): has mottled green leaves and white flowers; also known as white borage.
  • Creeping borage (Borago pygmaea): a sprawling plant with fragrant, pale blue blooms that appear from late spring through early autumn.

Also of interest:

How to Grow Basil

How to Grow Rosemary

How to Grow Sage

How to Grow Oregano

How to Grow Mint

How to Start a Herb Garden

Growing Herbs for Cooking

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *