Whenever something is looming large, or your work’s revelries have put you into reverse mode, reach for the BIG B: Borage (Borago officinalis) it is one of the best natural tonics for stress and depression.
In medieval times Borage (Borago officinalis) was infused in wine as a tonic to banish melancholy. The Romans used it as cure for hangovers. And, I must confess, it works wonderfully for both. icon-thumbs-up
How To Make Borage Tea
Simply pour a cup of boiling water over a quarter cup of freshly picked leaves, steep for five minutes, drain and sip a cup twice a day.
For a non-stop supply of leaves plant your own Borage. It is by far one of the easiest herbs to grow in pots or in your garden
Borage Medicinal Uses
The bright blue flowers are a bonus and yummy in salads. The leaves are seriously nutritious – full of calcium, potassium and minerals. Shred fresh leaves into salads, cream cheese or cook like spinach and eat it with everything.
Contemporary European herbalists use Borage tea to restore strength during convalescence and as an adrenal tonic to balance and restore the health of the adrenal glands following periods of stress.
Borage is of particular benefit during recovery from surgery or following steroid treatment. It also promotes lactation, relieve fevers, and promote sweating. 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.
How To Make a Borage Poultice
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.
Borage (Borago officinalis) Side Effects
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.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2007 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Organic borage seeds available in our shop – Click here!
Borage (Borago offcinalis), an annual herb, is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It does not need a lot of water. Grows happily in poor soil, and just needs a sunny spot to seed itself. Coming up year after year.
The seed germinate so easily that it can be sown in any season in mild climates. In very cold areas it is best to sow in spring.
For the best results choose a sunny spot that is sheltered from strong winds, as the soft main stems break easily.
Dig the soil well over and add a generous amount of compost or manure.
Either buy young potted Borage plants from your local garden center or sow seeds 30cm to 50cm apart in shallow drills. Water well till the plants are established or the seeds germinate. Then water only when dry.
Feed once a month with a balanced organic fertilizer at half the recommended rate.
Young leaves and the flowers may be used fresh at any time of the year. Older leaves can also be used, but they are too hairy for most palates and need to be chopped very fine.
Drying the leaves and flowers is possible, but it is usually not worth the effort. Freeze the lovely blue flowers by carefully putting them, one by one, in ice cube trays and gently covering them with water. When needed pop a flowery ice cube into a glass of white wine, fruit juice or any other beverage.
Borage is an outstanding 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.
Bees love the flowers, yielding an excellent honey.
If the Borage begins to take over your herb garden it is easy to thin out by pulling the plants out by hand. The shallow roots dislodge easily. Remember that the stalks are prickly. So you may need to wear garden gloves.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in October 2007 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
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
30ml castor sugar
750ml bottle dry white wine
125ml orange juice
250ml crushed ice
750ml bottle pink champagne
250ml ginger ale
250ml chopped fresh borage leaves
Borage flowers to garnish (optional)
Blend brandy, sugar, wine, juice and ice until combined.
Combine champagne, lemonade, ginger ale, borage and wine mixture in large bowl just before serving.
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.
¼ cup lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons sugar
3-4 medium-sized borage leaves
2 cups water
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
Lightly crush borage with mortar and pestle.
Place in a large punch bowl and add all other ingredients, except strawberries; chill.
Clean and prepare strawberries and float in a punch bowl just before serving.
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.
125 ml lime juice
125 ml sugar
60 ml chopped fresh borage leaves
Combine juice and sugar in small saucepan, stir over heat without boiling, until sugar has dissolved.
Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer, uncovered without stirring for 5 minutes, cool.
Stir in borage.
Preserves with Borage
Add flowers to herbal vinegar as a dye and for a slight cucumber flavour.
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
Cook according to commercial pectin direction.
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
Combine all the ingredients except for the tomatoes and flowers.
Slice tomatoes and arrange them, overlapping, around the edge of a serving platter.
Mound the cucumber mixture in the center of the platter, just covering the inner edge of the tomatoes.
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
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
Wash the lettuce and herbs well, dry them and place them in a large dish.
Sprinkle with salt, add the oil and finally the vinegar.
Let the salad stand a while before serving.
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)
Slice the cucumbers thinly. Salt lightly and set aside in a colander for 30 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
Mix the remaining ingredients, add the cucumbers to the mixture, and toss lightly.
Serve with fish salads, fried seafood and green salads
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
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
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.
Coarsely chop the greens; loosely packed, they should amount to about 3 cups altogether.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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’.
250 ml flour
8 ml baking powder
125 ml milk
1 beaten egg
125 ml – 250 ml cooked, chopped borage leaves
15 ml grated onion
oil or butter to fry
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a basin.
Make a well in the centre and stir in combined milk and egg to make a stiff batter.
Add chopped, cooked borage leaves and grated onion.
Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the mixture in tablespoons, turning to brown both sides.
Drain on brown paper and eat hot with mashed potatoes and grilled tomatoes.