Monday, 26 January 2009

Salad Burnet - Wild, Free and Cucumber Taste

Coming from western, central and southern Europe, northwest Africa and southwest Asia. Salad burnet is a common herb that not many people are aware of even though it grows under their noses in many instances. It is great for salads as it's name suggest and can be made into either a useful vinegar or a lovely alcoholic cocktail with a unique taste.

It is a perennial herbaceous plant growing to nearly 1 metre high and can be found mainly in dry grassy meadows with limestone based soil. It is very resistant to drought grows throughout all seasons.

It is used not just in salads, but can be used as an ingredient to dressings. The flavour is essentially of a cucumber. The salad burnet is an excellent substitution for mint leaves in many dishes. If you use the fresh young leaves these will give the best results otherwise you may get a bitter edge to older tougher parts of the herb.

It also has been marked in history for being Francis Bacon's favourite herb and was introduced to the New World from the first English colonists. Salad burnet also has medicinal qualities in fact the same benefits as the medicinal burnet.

The salad burnet or sometime know as the great burnet it distinctive in looks has erect stems with globular red flower heads. These have purplish quality with feather like stigmas and sepals; it has no petals. The leaves are rounded with toothed characteristic mini-leaves.

If the leaves are crushed it will give the smell reminiscent of cucumbers. The herb forms in large colonies and attracts all types of insects. It will seed freely and cover big areas. It is a good plant for a short meadow type land as it can withstand mowing. Because it can tolerate drought it is good resource to have with global warming here and worsening.

Seeds are cheap and freely available in many online gardening sites. It is well worth having a few clumps of salad burnet you can pick all year round once established just before you mow the land.

I have given a recipe that I had made in the UK a few times. It was a great favourite of my grandmother who used to make it and gave me the recipe. She said, "It make hairs grow on your chest," but this is not to be taken seriously of course.

Grandma Charlotte's Burnet Liquor Cocktail

  • Salad Burnet, around 5-6 plants crushed or liquidised
  • 700cl white wine medium to sweet
  • 500ml sherry
  • 1/2 lime or 1 lemon thinly sliced
  • 1 litre soda water
Simply mix all the ingredients except the soda water together really well and leave in the fridge for a few hours or preferably overnight. Just before serving add the soda water and add sugar to add more sweetness if required.

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