While not in the cucumber family, borage, a Mediterranean herb, has a strikingly familiar cucumber taste. With its fuzzy buds and vividly blue star-shaped flowers, borage can be grown in your garden or found at the farmers market all Summer long. The buds, flowers, and stems can be tossed raw in a salad or chopped up and used as a garnish to cold soups like gazpacho. Muddle the buds and stems with sugar to give a refreshing cocktail a hint of cucumber. The flowers can even be candied as you would with rose petals or pansies for a striking cake decoration.
In medieval times, the leaves and flowers were tossed in wine for medicinal purposes. At the time, drinking borage-spiked wine was thought to cure melancholy and sadness. Today, borage tea is commonly used in alternative medicine as a detoxifying tea.
Borage leaves can be prickly, so don't attempt to eat them raw; instead, brew them as a tea. Seep a small handful of leaves in nearly boiling water for 30 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on how strong you prefer your tea. The grassy flavor is similar to a young, loose-leaf green tea, but without the bitter aftertaste of the tannins. Brewing it for longer will release a buttery flavor, thanks to omega-3s. As strange as it sounds, a cup of strong borage tea is reminiscent of steamed green beans with melted butter. It's refreshing and cooling, especially with the subtle cucumber scent. Only after drinking a cup, I think I feel the calming effects of the herb.