Burnet is also known as Salad Burnet. The latin names are Pimpinella Saxifraga and Pimpinella Sanguisorba.
The native habitat of salad burnet or lesser burnet is widespread. Thought to be a native of Europe, it is also grown in the Mediterranean region, Asia, the British Isles, central and southern Europe and the Middle East, mainly Morocco and Iran.
In these regions it was historically used to flavour wines and as a tonic tea. In England it was often planted in the Tudor knot garden (a formal garden design set in a square and usually planted with aromatic plants). The herb was taken by the Pilgrim Fathers to America where it was naturalised.
Similar in flavour to Borage, it is still used in wine cups, salads and sauces. The leaves are used fresh when young.
Salad Burnet is reputed to be a cooling herb. The flavour is a dinstinct one of cucumber. It is used in food as flavouring. The Greek word, 'poterion' meaning drinking cup, probably was the origin of its name. The name points significantly to its widespread use in as a flavouring agent for drinks. The other part of the latin name 'sanguisorba' literally means to absorb blood.
The Dutch call burnet 'God's Little Bird'. Much in the manner of birds before a storm approaches, the petals of the flower close on themselves on a day when the weather is likely to be stormy.
The name tell one what it should be used for… salad. The young leaves are best since they tend to get bitter as they get older. Plucked fresh and sprinkled on salads they provide a refreshing aroma.
Burnet can be used in salads, creamy soups, casseroles, herb butters, dips and as a garnish. The flavour of Salad Burnet blends well with rosemary and tarragon and can be used alongside them in stews.
The dried leaves can be used for tea. To preserve them, the leaves may be frozen in cubes of ice to add a delightful freshness to cool drinks in warm weather.
Burnet lends itself well to delicate flavoured vinegars. The vinegar should, however, be allowed to steep several months when using leaves and stems, since the flavour of burnet is delicate and takes time to intensify. The vinegar should be light, prefreably a white wine vinegar.
Burnet can be used to garnish dishes instead of parsley. It goes well with cream cheese and cottage cheese.
BURNET DIP = 1 cup cottage cheese or strained yoghurt or cream cheese , 3 tbsp milk to loosen the mixture, 2 tbsp chopped fresh burnet leaves, 3 whole burnet leaves. Place cheese, milk and chopped leaves in a blender or food processor and blend till smooth. Season with salt and crushed pepper and fresh lemon zest. Garnish with whole leaves. Seve with crackers or toast or any bread.
The traditional therapeutic uses of an infusion of burnet leaves includes its use as a digestive aid, a digestive tonic, a mild diuretic, and an astringent sytemic cleanser. The fresh leaves of burnet were chewed to relieve indigestion. The leaves were infused in hot water to heal and control excessive diarrhoea.
The infusion, due to its nature as a coolant is used in compresses to treat sunburn and to heal the skin.
An infusion of the root was drunk by soldiers before they went into battle. They believed that their wounds would bleed less as a result of this. Burnet contains tannins which have astringent, coagulant and hemostatic properties. Burnet is as a result a superb wound healer. Dried, powdered leaves of burnet are packed into wounds to stem the flow of blood. The Chinese also use the herb for this purpose and it is administered internally in Chinese Traditional Medicine to treat ulcerative colitis. It has also been used to treat vaginal discharges.
Burnet is also a traditional pain reliever.
Its astringent qualities make burnet a superb facial cleanser and an infusion may be used for this purpose. Dried leaves were also used in place of bath salts. Skin freckling is apparently helped by an application of burnet decoction.
The Book of Ingredients: Philip Dowell and Adrian Bailey; Penguin/ Mermaid Books 1993
--Radhikab70 03:59, 3 August 2007 (EDT)