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Getting Cucumber Flavor…Without Cucumbers

Growing Salad Burnet -

I confess…

Culinary herbs led to my edible gardening addiction.

As I started getting into cooking as a young adult, I started growing herbs to get the best flavor.

Then as I learned more about the powerful flavors found in fresh herbs, I was hooked!

Today, I have over 50 different herbs in my garden and I use them for both cooking and canning.

I especially love the unusual herbs that few people know about.

Salad burnet is one such herb.

It offers a delicate and unusual flavor combination that is just not found anywhere else.

Here is the lowdown on:

  • What salad burnet is
  • How its flavor changes
  • How it is best used in cooking
  • Tips for growing it

Salad Burnet:

Salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor) grows as a 1 foot mound in the garden and has small, finely cut leaves. Due to its delicate flavor, it is generally used as a salad herb.

But what gives salad burnet its “cool” factor is a unique characteristic not found in other herbs.

Its delicate flavor changes based on the ambient temperature.

During the cooler months of spring, the leaves have a cucumber-like flavor.

But during the heat of summer, the chemistry changes slightly and the leaves sweeten to a watermelon-like flavor.

I do not know of this type of flavor change in any other herb and that alone makes it a fun thing to grow.

But salad burnet also has some great uses in the kitchen.

Cooking Tips:

Salad burnet has a delicate flavor. It is so delicate, that it does not hold up well to heat.

For this reason, I do not use salad burnet for canning and I do not use it in the dried state. The volatile oils just don’t hold up in either situation.

But when used fresh, it has great value.

Salad burnet can be used in:

  • Sandwiches
  • Salads
  • Cold soups
  • Salad dressings
  • Soft cheeses
  • Cocktails
  • Or sprinkled over chicken, fish or veggies

My favorite way to use salad burnet is as a flavoring for vinegar. I steep handfuls of fresh salad burnet in white wine vinegar for about a week and then strain it out. The resulting vinegar adds a wonderful flavor to any salad dressing.

Growing Salad Burnet -

Growth Habits:

Salad burnet is a good filler plant in the garden. It is a perennial that grows as a low 12-inch mound – filling in spaces between other plants.

It self sows easily, which usually means the plant is very “weedy”. However, in my garden, it has never gotten out of control. I can pull any unwanted volunteers easily.

It grows in full sun to partial shade well, making it an easy plant to add to your landscape.

It is generally evergreen and can withstand most winters.



You can easily grow salad burnet from seed. Here are a few sources for you:

Johnny’s Select Seeds

Park Seeds


Tell me…

Do you have a favorite herb in the garden?

Tell me in the comments!


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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.