Salad Burnet is one of the few wild species which supplies edible greenery for most of the year. It is used as an ingredient in both salads and dressings, having a flavor described as “light cucumber” and is interchangeable with mint leaves in some recipes. Typically, the youngest leaves are used, as they tend to become bitter as they age. Salad Burnet is listed as an ingredient in some French and Italian recipes, and is often available in markets there in bunches with other herbs and salad greens.
Sharing the same properties, but to a lesser degree, as the medicinal herb Burnet (Sanguisorba Officinalis), Salad Burnet has been used for over 2000 years. The Latin scientific name, Poterium Sanguisorba or Sanguisorba Minor, translates as “drink up blood” referring to its astringent qualities. It has been used to prevent hemorrhages and internal bleeding. Knowing this, soldiers of old would drink tea made from the herb before going into battle in hopes that any wounds they received would be less severe. It was also used as an anti-Plague tonic — one of 21 herbs combined and dissolved in wine.
You can add the tender young leaves to salads or use it in soups and sauces along with dill, oregano and basil. Older leaves are bitter–tasting but the young ones taste of cucumber, which is why they are used to flavour drinks (try the one below). Salad burnet is also one of the French fines herbes along with others such as tarragon and rosemary. It is sweet-smelling and Francis Bacon remarked that it should be grown in pathways along with thyme and water mint “to perfume the air most delightfully, being trodden on and crushed.”
Some modern uses:-
Blend it into spreads, cheese, butters, houmous
Also salad burnet is great in gin and tonic. Put in ice cube trays and freeze. Put a few cubes in glass and 1 or 2 sprigs of salad burnet in each glas with your favorite gin and tonic recipe. Makes a nice change from traditional Mint Julep Y’all. Or Try this cooling drink recipe in summer using salad burnet.
SALAD BURNET WINE CUP
1 bottle sweet white wine
500 ml sherry
6-8 sprigs of salad burnet (young tender shoots and leaves)
1 lemon sliced
1 litre soda water
Mix the white wine and sherry in a jug and add the salad burnet and lemon slices.
Chill for an hour or two and when ready to serve add the soda water and pour into glasses over crushed ice.
Sauce for grilled or poached fish
1 cup creme fraiche
2 Tbsp. salad burnett vinegar
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. minced shallots
1 tsp. dried mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
3 Tbsp. chopped salad burnet leaves
2 tsps. chopped chives
salt to taste
Mix all ingredients. Let set for several hours before using. Put small amount on each portion of fish. Use in other dishes in place of mayonnaise.
SALAD BURNET, SANGUISORBA MINOR, POTERIUM SANGUISORBA
Salad burnet is not as popular as it used to be, but it can be found growing wild in Europe. It is distinguishable because it as it originates in the Northern Temperate Zones its flowers don’t have petals. The Greater burnet is the one most commonly used in medicinal treatments, but the smaller, salad burnet is useful as an astringent and coolant.
The whole herb is best harvested in July and hung in an airy, sunny room to dry in small bundles so that the air can pass through it. It contains the bioflavonoids, quercetin and kaempferol and vanillic, caffeic and gallic acid along with tannins and saponisides. It also contains vitamins C, A and some of the B-complex ones, along with the minerals iron and potassium.
You can make a tisane with the whole herb by chopping up a plant and pouring 2 pints of boiling water over it and allowing it to steep for 15 mins. The tisane is good for fevers and for diarrhoea and upset stomachs. It can also be used on the skin to clean wounds.