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Borage leaves are small to medium in size and wide to ovate in shape, averaging 5-15 centimeters long. The green leaves, buds, and stems are covered in fine white bristles that give the plant a soft silver sheen, and these bristles can become sharp and prickly with maturity. Borage leaves grow in an alternating pattern, have wavy edges, are deeply wrinkled with coarse veins, and are prone to developing a rusty yellow and brown color. Young Borage leaves are crunchy and have a flavor of freshly shucked oyster with an herbal cucumber finish. In addition to the leaves, Borage plants are gangly, growing up to one meter in height, and have tiny star-shaped flowers that can be blue, lavender, or purple.
Borage leaves are available in the early spring and summer.
Borage leaves, botanically classified as Borago officinalis, grow on a hardy annual herb and are members of the Boraginaceae family. Also known as Bee Plant, Starflower, Bugloss, Bee Bush, and Bee Bread, Borage leaves are native to Europe and Asia and have been used for centuries in both medicinal and culinary applications. Today Borage plants are most popularly harvested for its seed oil which is used as a health and fitness supplement. In addition, Borage plants are a favorite of honey bees and are often grown by beekeepers to help boost honey production.
Borage leaves are an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an omega six fatty acid that is believed to help reduce inflammation. They also contain some fiber and beta-carotene.
Borage leaves are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling and stewing. It is not recommended to consume raw, mature leaves as they may contain prickles which could cause irritation. Young, tender leaves without the presence of prickles may be used to flavor salads or used as a garnish. Borage leaves can also be dried and used in soups and stews. Both the leaves and the flowers can be incorporated as a garnish into cocktails, desserts, and even ice cubes, and they can also be boiled and made into a preserve, jelly, or vinegar. Borage leaves pair well with cream cheese, cottage cheese, onion greens, shallots, garlic, chicken, fish, dill, mint, pickles, and greens. Borage leaves will keep for a couple of days when stored fresh in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Borage leaves are popular in Europe and are often used for their cucumber-like flavor. Borage leaves are used in Frankfurt, Germany to make grüne soße, which is a traditional and well-known green herb sauce, and is often served with eggs, on bread, or with apple cider. It is also used in Liguria, Italy as a filling with cheese and other herbs for pansoti and ravioli. In addition to culinary uses, Borage leaves are often steeped in boiling water to make a tea to help reduce symptoms of aches and fevers.
Borage is believed to have originated in the Middle East and was then spread to Europe. Today is it naturalized throughout Europe and the United States and can be found in seed form on online catalogs and fresh at local markets.
Recipes that include Borage Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.