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Learning About Herbs: Borage

This is the first year that we've grown borage.  The leaves and flowers of the borage plant can be used to make tea, which is known for helping reduce fever, cough and depression.  The fresh leaves can also be enjoyed in salads and used in iced tea; their taste is very similar to cucumber.  In fact, there are an amazing number of uses for this versatile plant once you start reading about it.

Borage growing in the garden

I was just reading that the leaves should be harvested before the flowers on the plant have opened. After the flower opens, the leaves become bitter.  While most of our borage plants do have flower buds forming on them now, only a couple of the flowers have opened.  I tasted one of the leaves this morning and it still tastes tender and like cucumber.  So I quickly got busy picking most of the leaves off the plants.

Borage is an unusual plant.  The leaves and flowers are very prickly. There are tiny hairs all over the plants including the outside of the flower buds. The prickly borage plant doesn't seem to sting if touched, but just in case picking multiple leaves should cause my hands to become irritated, I wore rubber gloves while harvesting and handling the plant.  Then I washed the leaves in a big bowl of water to remove any dirt and bugs, and dried them off using my salad spinner.

Once the leaves were relatively dry, I put as many as would fit into my food dehydrator. It's only been a few hours and already the leaves are beginning to get crispy.

The rest of the leaves have been spread out on our growing/drying rack in the Corral. I plan to use all of the dried leaves for tea.  Once dried, they will store for a long time.

Borage leaves drying on a rack

Later, once most of the flowers have opened, I plan to go back and harvest the beautiful blue flowers for dehydrating.  The dried flowers will then be combined with the dried leaves, and stored for using as tea.