Borage (Borago officinalis), also known as bee bread or star flower, is an annual herb in the flowering plant family Boraginaceae. Most members of this family have coarse, hairy leaves. With a characteristic flavor that is remarkably similar to fresh cucumbers, borage was traditionally cultivated for culinary use as a vegetable.
You can use borage as either a fresh vegetable or a dried herb.With its cucumber-like taste, borage is often used in salads or steamed. It blends well with dill, mint, and garlic.
Keep in mind that fresh borage leaves are hairy and need to be chopped finely before adding them to any fresh dish.
Use the leaves and stems to enhance vegetables, soups, sauces, salads, and pickles.
One of the most famous German recipes using borage is Frankfurt Green Sauce (Grüne Soße).
Steam or sauté the leaves and stems in much the same way as spinach.
You can combine borage leaves with cabbage or spinach using about one-third borage leaves to two-thirds cabbage or spinach, then cook it as you would any leafy greens.
Add borage leaves to soups or stews for added flavor and nutrition.
The star-shaped flowers of borage have a sweet honey-like taste and are great as a garnish or tossed in a salad. When using fresh borage flowers in a dish, be sure to add them on top at the last minute to avoid wilting and discoloration.
Use candied borage flowers to decorate candies and cakes. To candy borage flowers, pick the flowers, each with a small stem, when they are quite dry. Paint each one with lightly beaten egg white, using a water color paintbrush. Dust them lightly with superfine sugar and set to dry on waxed paper in a warm place like an airing cupboard or a very cool oven.
In England, the traditional gin-based drink, Pimm’s No.1, has borage as one of its main ingredients.1, 2
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Look for fresh herb leaves with stout stems and a delicate cucumber aroma. Like other greens such as spinach, borage stays fresh only for a few hours. Avoid dried borage leaves as the dried herb loses most of its flavor.
Wikipedia: The seeds contain 26-38% of borage seed oil, of which 17-28% is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), the richest known source. The oil also contains the fatty acids palmitic acid (10-11%), stearic acid (3.5-4.5%), oleic acid (16-20%), linoleic acid (35-38%), eicosenoic acid (3.5-5.5%), erucic acid (1.5-3.5%), and nervonic acid (1.5%). The oil is often marketed as "starflower oil" or "borage oil" for use as a GLA supplement, although healthy adults will typically produce ample GLA from dietary linoleic acid.1
Dangers / Intolerances:
Wikipedia: The leaves contain small amounts (2-10 ppm of dried herb) of the liver-toxic Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) intermedine, lycopsamine, amabiline and supinine and the non-toxic saturated PA thesinine. PAs are also present in borage seed oil, but may be removed by processing. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has advised that honey from borage contains PAs, transferred to the honey through pollen collected at borage plants, and advise that commercial honey production could select for raw honey with limited PA content to prevent contamination.1
Pregnant women or nursing mothers and individuals with blood-clotting disorders should avoid or limit their intake of borage.
Use as a medicinal plant:
Borage is used in naturopathic medicine to relieve gastrointestinal complaints such as colic, cramps, and diarrhea. Other medicinal uses include the treatment of respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, including asthma, bronchitis, and hypertension.
Borage seeds contain important health benefiting essential oils including gamma-linolenic acid. This omega-6 fatty acid (18:3 fats) is helpful in the treatment of arthritis, inflammations, and dermatitis. It supports joint health, immunity, and healthy skin and mucosa.
Borage leaves can be ground into a paste to make a cooling and soothing remedy for sprains, swelling, and skin inflammations and irritations. It also reportedly balances the function of the adrenal gland and is especially helpful following surgeries.2
Borage, also known as starflower, is an annual herb in the flowering plant family Boraginaceae. The leaves, stems, and flowers are edible, and the plant is grown for medicinal and culinary purposes.1
Cultivation and harvest:
Borage is a remarkably easy herb to grow. It self-seeds and can be difficult to control if it is not cultivated in a pot. Borage is considered a hardy annual, although it may survive over the winter in temperate regions. It thrives in direct sun with poor soil and dry conditions, so it is a good choice for a drought resistant garden. Some gardeners believe that borage deters tomato worms and grow it as a companion plant to tomatoes.2
Borage is native to the Mediterranean region and has naturalized in many other locales. It is raised commercially for borage seed oil. The leaves and stems are covered with fine bristly hairs. It typically produces star-shaped, Wedgewood-blue flowers from May through September, but you will occasionally find some soft pink flowers that are full of nectar and attract bees (hence the colloquial name ‘bee bread’). There is also a rare white flowered variety.1, 2
Literature / Sources:
- Wikipedia.Borage, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Borage
- “Borage,” The Epicentre, accessed 1.27.2019, theepicentre.com/?s=borage