Re: Borage, anyone?
Since Borage didn't seem to be anyone's specialty, I did a bit of Internet
research. The following is what I prepared for my club's newsletter. If
not all that interested in borage, don't bother, but if you are...
The Common Borage (Borago officinalis) is a hardy annual plant coming
originally from Aleppo, but now naturalized in most parts of Europe. It has
been grown freely in kitchen gardens for its uses as a herb and for the sake
its flowers which yield excellent honey.
Borage was sometimes called Bugloss by the old herbalists, but that name
properly belongs to Anchusa officinalis, Alkanet, and Echium vulgare, Viper's
Some authorities consider that the Latin name Borago, from which our
popular name is taken, is a corruption of corago, from cor, the heart, and
bring, because of its cordial effect. In all the countries bordering the
Mediterranean, it is spelt with a double 'r,' so the word may be derived from
Italian borra, French bourra, signifying hair or wool, in reference to the
thick covering of short hairs which clothes the whole plant
The plant is rough, with white, stiff, prickly hairs. The stems, about 1=
feet high, are branched, hollow and succulent; the leaves alternate, large,
gray, oval and pointed, with stiff hairs on the upper surfaces. The flowers
bright blue and star-shaped, with prominent black anthers. The fruit
consists of four brownish-black nutlets.
The plant, a native to the Mediterranean area, was known to Greek and Roman
botanists. According to Discorides and Pliny, Borage was the famous Nepenthe
of Homer, which, when drunk steeped in wine, brought "absolute
forgetfulness." Valued for its ability to impart courage, borage flowers were
stirrup cups offered to Crusaders departing for the Holy Land. Celtic warriors
drank wine flavored with borage to give them courage in battle. Gerard says
"The leaves and floures of Borage put into wine make men and women glad and
and drive away all sadnesse, dulnesse and melancholy. John Evelyn, writing at
the close of the seventeenth century tells us "Sprigs of Borage are of known
virtue to revive the hypochrondiac and cheer the hard student."
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the young tops of Borage
were sometimes boiled as a pot-herb, and the young leaves were considered good
salads. It was an ingredient in cool tankards of wine or cider, and is still
used in claret cup. The flowers, candied and made into a conserve, were
deemed useful for persons weakened by long sickness, and for those subject to
swoonings. The distilled water was considered valuable to cure inflammation
the eyes. The juice, in syrup, was thought to be good in fevers, and to be a
remedy for jaundice, itch and ringworm. Culpepper tells us that "the dried
is never used, but the green, yet the ashes thereof boiled in mead or honeyed
water is valuable in inflammation and ulcers in the mouth or throat, and as a
gargle." Today, Borage Seed Oil is promoted on health-food sites as having
"cosmetic and medicinal benefits." Borage contains potassium and calcium,
combined with mineral acids. The fresh juice provides nitrate of potash.
Borage is much used in France for fevers and pulmonary complaints, and,
externally, as a poultice for inflammatory swellings. The flowers or leaves
helpful for relieving the symptoms of bronchitis, and also act as an
anti-diarrheal remedy. Borage leaves can also be ground into a paste (add hot
or tea, and maybe a little oatmeal for consistency) and make a cooling and
soothing remedy for sprains, swelling, and skin inflammations and irritations.
Although the leaves of Borage are edible, it's best to use small young
leaves because as they get bigger the leaves get hairy and are not comfortable
eat. Freeze flowers in ice cubes for adding to drinks; dry flowers to add to
pot pourri - they keep their steel blue colour very well. The flowers can be
crystallized for cake decoration or added to vinegar that turns blue
As for recipes, there are several available online, most of which read like
cucumbers in sour cream, just with shredded borage leaves added. Since they
are supposed to have a cucumber flavor, this sounds like a not-very-important
use of the plant. Then there was
1/2 lb. young borage leaves & flowers
2 oz. short grain rice
2 oz. butter
1 1/2 pints chicken stock
6oz. double cream
Seasoning to taste
Melt the butter in a saucepan.
Add the rice and cook over a low heat for two minutes,.
Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes.
Strip the borage leaves and flowers from the stalks and wash well.
Leave aside some flowers for decoration and add the remainder to the
Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
Season to taste.
Allow to cool for a while, then liquidize in a blender Pour the soup through
a fine sieve into a serving tureen and allow to cool. Before serving stir in
the cream and decorate with the bright blue borage flowers. Serves 4.
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