If you have always thought of borage as decoration for a Pimm’s Cup only consumed at Wimbledon and cricket matches in England, take another look.

Borage is native to northern Europe, but grows well in temperate regions of the Mediterranean and North America.

The borage plant blooms in summer with blue, bell-shaped flowers and dark green leaves. Seeds germinate easily, and the plant grows to a height of about 18 inches. It is a self-seeding annual that likes to take over rich garden soil. The young leaves have a flavor resembling cucumber, and are excellent flavor enhancers for almost any dish using tomatoes, cucumbers, or squash.

Aside from a Pimm’s Cup concoction of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup gin-based liquor (1-1/2 oz), dash of lemon juiice, ginger ale, and cucumber wheels; borage leaves and flowers are garnishments for many gin-based cocktails. Traditionally, it has been considered a euphoriant when added to spirits.

The blue flowers and young leaves are excllent additions for garden salads, dips and cold soups.

Always chop the leaves to destroy the look of “hairiness” on the leaves when left whole.

Chopped leaves are an excellent, fresh, last minute addition to a soup or stew.

Mix two parts cabbage, one part borage leaves, season, and cook for a delicious “new” cooked vegetable dish.

Candied borage flowers are pretty cake decorations. Gather your flowers early in the morning, let them dry, brush lightly with egg white, and sprinkle with super-fine sugar.

Borage leaves do not dry well for culinary use, but the dried blue flowers are excellent color additions to potpourri.

Borage helps reduce fevers, stimulates the kidneys, and aids chronic chest problems.

It contains a number of alkaloids, tannins, mucilage, and large amounts of gamma linoleum acid (GLA). Borage is also rich in minerals, especially potassium. This suggests it is an excellent remedy for PMS, rheumatoid arthritis, and eczema.

The simplest tea, (toss some leaves into a mug with boiling water, steep for ten minutes, strain and drink one hour before bedtime), promotes a restful night’s sleep.

Borage is a tonic to help the adrenal system deal with stressful lifestyles. Borage tisanes tend to be light and delicate in nature, and results are gradual and sometimes open to question. It is often combined with other fresh herbs for a relaxing and comforting drink.

This mixture, enhanced with additional leaves, is also an excellent facial steam for improving dry, sensitive skin. Place the steaming mixture in a bowl, cover your head and the bowl with a towel, and enjoy the vapors for 8 to 10 minutes.

Borage is one of the herbs of summer that brings enjoyment all its own. Use singularly, or combine with other sweet and gentle herbs to find your favorite flavors as you include borage in your culinary and personal collection of summer pleasures.


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