Salad Burnet, also known as Drumsticks, Old man's pepper and Poor man's pepper, is native of Europe and Asia and is from the family Rosaceae. It was taken to New England in the Pilgrim Father's plant collection and was called Pimpernel.
Salad Burnet is a unique herb as it is one of our few soft leaved hardy evergreen perennials making it a wonderful additional to any herb bed. Alternatively, as the Tudors used to do, plant it along the borders so the scent rises up when trodden on.
It can be propagated easily from seed in spring and is happy in a container (buy seeds online). If growing in a container, ensure you water regularly and feed with liquid fertiliser (such as with Maxicrop liquid seaweed, available from our shop).
The Latin is Sanguisorba minor, and the name Sanguisorba comes from sanguis, meaning 'blood' and sorbere, meaning to 'soak up'. The name relates to its ancient medicinal use, which was to staunch wounds.
Nowadays, it is predominantly used for culinary purposes. The leaves of Salad Burnet have a nutty flavour and a slight taste of cucumber. The latter is the reason it is often added to Gin & Tonic as a garnish; we prefer it as an addition to salads. When adding to salads, Jekka's tip is to take the new shoots which are tastier and easier to digest. As it is an evergreen perennial it enhances any winter salad. Alternatively, use like Parsley, as a garnish for many dishes.
One of Jekka's recipes is for a Salad Burnet butter, which is lovely with grilled fish as it adds a subtle cucumber flavour.
- 75g butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped Salad Burnet
- 1 tbsp. chopped spearmint
- Salt, black pepper & lemon juice to taste
- Mix the chopped herb leaves together.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the herbs and simmer on a very low heat for 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Pour on the grilled fish and enjoy!