Lost in the dreary doldrum of winter, my eyes gaze out upon my dry, crunchy garden, brown silhouettes the only reminder of the once lush, invigorating kaleidoscope of life that filled those sturdy wooden boxes. Though only a few short months ago, it feels like eons since I’ve laid eyes on anything green.
When fwaaaabaaaapppp! Just like being whacked in the face with a flacid pickle, a tiny sprig of life comes quickly to view, peeking out from under a thick blanket of snow.
I move with great trepidation towards this emerald wonder, one foot silently in front of the other, never breaking my gaze lest this green gift from the gods vanish back into my imagination, or fade back into the soil with the sudden recognition that it is in the world before it’s time.
Or possibly run screaming because of it’s realization that it’s a pretty little plant and I’m stalking it like a windowless creeper van driver with a waxed molestache. In Superman pajama pants. And a huge holey sweatshirt. And a mismatched vest. With no bra. And it’s a pretty distinct possibility that I haven’t washed my hair in two days.
Yet there I stood with crazed, red-veined eyes and slobber dripping from my lips while I picked off a small leaf, rubbing it’s cucumber-like fragrance beneath my nose, whispering “Prrrreeeeecious! My Prrrreeeeecious!”. It was real.
So that’s the story of how I happily and unexpectedly happened upon Salad Burnet (Saguisorba Minor) in my garden the other day.
For those of you unfamiliar with this gem of an herb, Salad Burnet (known to Bealer as Carol Burnett) is a perennial herb steeped in tradition. Mentioned by Shakespeare and revered by Thomas Jefferson, Salad Burnet was once a staple of every kitchen garden, often used to flavor salads, soups and wines. It was used as a medicinal herb to staunch external bleeding. Which also made it very helpful in healing wounds of those who imbibed a bit too much of the aforementioned flavored wine. Aaaaaaand, it was used to treat The Plague! No one said it was particularly effective for that, but the leeches and flogging weren’t either…and they weren’t nearly as tasty. Besides, everyone knows Plague victims enjoy a good salad.
Salad Burnet is still used today in Chinese Medicine for duodenal ulcers, internal hemorrhaging and diarrhea. And because I like studies…. here’s one about our new fav herb’s close relative, Greater Burnet (Saguisorba officinalis) and its role in the treatment of inflammation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4809163/ Note that both officinalis and minor possess the same constituents mentioned in this study.
I say this beautful, once notable, and now nearly forgotten herb deserves a comeback in both the kitchen and the garden landscape. It’s cute, brightens a blah winter day, it’s tasty, low maintenance, and it soothes your wounds….heck this herb is giving Bealer a run for his money. He does have a really nice butt though…..I digress.
In the dreary days of winter, Salad Burnet brings the fresh, clean taste of cucumbers to many a dish. Add it to smoothies with frozen honeydew or watermelon. Mix it with your favorite cold frame greens, and top with some homemade dressing for a healthy, low calorie dinner…which then gives you free license to stuff your face with the fat laden comfort food of winter. Like cookies. And a whole cake. Or two.
More the savory type? Make Salad Burnet butter and slather it all over fresh baked bread. Remember, it tastes and smells like cucumber, so every dish made with this herb is instantly healthy and slimming. Also, it’s high in Vitamin C, so pack some with your winter cruise clothing and while you may feel all slovenly in your bathing suit from all the cake, you won’t have the scurrrrvy either. Not having scurvy = healthy. So there’s that.
Now go get some of your own Preeeeciouuus and enjoy the winter!