The Sweet Life Gardener Burnet

By Alisa Murray

Hey Sweet Lifers! There are many things I love about having a garden. One is the ability to walk outside and pick fresh daily items to use for my recipes. I suppose if I did not love to cook this would not be as pleasurable. What I love perhaps the most is when I can successfully grow plants that are both edible, beautiful and serve multiple purposes such as medicinal. When they have all that going for them then all my tending and care are worth the time invested into sustaining its life. Burnet is one such plant.


Burnet is one of the easiest herbals to grow. Once established it is a self-seeder, and you will want to pinch off the flowers once spent to maintain its presence in your garden. It does not mind our intermittent freezes, although I always cover it to protect it. I have mine growing in a spot with full drainage and direct sun. It gets bigger each year, and because I so often use it, I allow it to grow and self-seed along my border.

With it’s airy leaf forms, it is both beautiful to have in your garden as a border or as a potted plant. It is most widely known for use in ancient Chinese medicine, and it has many lovely qualities. Burnet’s Latin name Sanguisorba means to reduce bleeding. It has been used widely throughout history to treat wounds and internal bleeding, including excessive menstrual issues. Additionally, burnet’s leaves have both astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used for the treatment of dysentery, gastric issues, in particular diarrhea, and reducing inflammation of hemorrhoids.

In the times of the Tudors, burnet’s smaller version, known as salad burnet, had many culinary uses. The leaves are tender and have a cucumber taste making it a perfect compliment to any salad. Over the years like borage, it has been used to add extra flavors to beer, ale and enhancing red wine. Every single part of burnet can be consumed and is good for you. The roots, stems and leaves all contain tannic and gallic acids. Some research has been done concerning the benefits of consuming gallic acids to block cancer cells.

Burnet has so much versatility it’s easy to recognize that it can be used as both a garnish in a glass of red wine if you want to be very fancy, or in a cool glass of lemonade, or even added with a little honey to pour over some vanilla ice cream!

In my cooking I love to make herbal butters to season steaks and chicken, and it is as lovely on pork and fish as well.

Burnet Compound Butter Recipe:

Chop 1 handful of fresh curly parsley

          1 handful of fresh chives

          1 handful of fresh salad burnet

          1 handful of fresh tarragon

          1 stick of unsalted butter softened to room temp

          4 turns of red and green cracked peppercorns in the grinder

Combine the herbs and peppercorns into the butter and smear into a small dish, cover with wrap and refrigerate.

Burnet Butter can be served table side with fresh rolls, or apply to grilled meats prior to serving or use as a rub to prep poultry before roasting. It is absolutely delicious. If you want to make up some butter rolls for gifting, triple this recipe and them form a roll in wrap and twist the ends and freeze. It can then be added to a basket with other jams and goodies for family and friends. This will keep in the freezer for one month.

Keep on growing and enjoy!