Sage, also called garden sage or common sage, is a leaf that comes from a perennial sub-shrub in the mint family that has woody stems, greyish leaves and purple flowers. It is also referred to as Salvia officinalis. There are over 900 species of Salvia, making it the largest genus of the mint, or Lamiaceae, family.
Rubbed sage gets its name from the process that creates it. To get to the desired effect, the leaves of the plant must be rubbed between two objects, often simply someone's hands, to separate them from the stems. The result is a fluffy, almost cotton-like substance that has a powerful flavor and a very fragrant aroma.
Sage is wildly popular in Greek and European food, but especially in Italian, English and German cuisines. In Britain, it is considered an essential ingredient to have in your kitchen, along with parsley, rosemary and thyme.
It has 1.5 to 3 percent volatile oil that has a yellow to yellowish green color, and it can be gathered from the leaves when fresh. Due to the plant breaking down, even more essential oil can be harvested from the dried variety. Its essential oil is comprised of mainly cineol, borneol, and alpha- and beta- thujone.
Other names for sage are Dalmation sage, English sage, garden sage, common sage, and true sage. In other langauges, sage is said very differently. Maryameya in Arabic, shao wei cao in Mandarin, sauge in French, salbei in German, bhuli tulsi in Hindi, seji in Japanese, salva in Portuguese, shalfej in Russian and salvia in Spanish are some of the ways sage is otherwise named.
Its name comes from the Latin word Salvere which means to save. The name made its way to French, where it evolved into Sauge, and then when speakers of Old English picked it up, it became Sawge, which has become what we know as sage today.
The Ancient Egyptians used sage as an infertility treatment. They would consume the leaves fresh as whole leaves or dried. This was said to help encourage movement in the reproductive organs of women. Ancient Greeks and Romans used it to pull poisons from the body like in the case of a snake bite, and to revitalize the mind and body. The Greeks loved the herb, but the Romans took it one step above that and considered it sacred. They had a special ceremony when it was time to harvest the plant to honor it. They used special, expensive tools to do the harvesting so that the flavor of the plant would not be compromised. They brushed their teeth with its leaves and thought it freshened their breaths when chewed on. They used it to preserve their meat. They even used it to cure hot flashes. In the Middle Ages, sage was used to make tea which was said to treat a variety of ailments including colds, fevers, liver trouble and epilepsy. Today sage is used less commonly in medicinal settings. The tea is still thought to be a good aid in the soothing of sore throats, but many of its other uses have been put on the back burner for things like Colgate and Listerine.
In the ninth century, the emperor Charlemagne decreed that sage should be grown in every empirical garden for the benefit of the people. It was used heavily medicinally at that time and Charlemagne appreciated the value of the herb so much that he thought it was necessary for everyday life, and thus a requirement in all his gardens. The suggestion that rue should grow alongside of sage comes from this period. Rue was thought to deter toads from eating the valuable plant.
The Chinese loved sage so much that they used it in everything from teas to the treatment of digestive and nervous system issues. It was also used against typhoid fever, liver ailments, kidney problems, colds, and joint pain.
There is an old English saying which implies that eating sage every day in the month of May will grant immortality. While this is obviously not true, the plant does have some anti-bacterial and anti-septic properties that may help prevent illness. It is also said that a garden that is ruled by this herb has a household governed by a woman. Additionally, it thought to ease pain in the loss of a loved one.
It offered protection to Virgin Mary and baby Jesus against Kind Herod who wanted to kill Jesus, so it is considered the herb of the Mother. At the Assumption feast, sage is often a primary ingredient and decoration. This feast celebrates Virgin Mary's entrance into heaven.
Sage is also associated with success in business. According to legend, if you find it growing near your building, you should take that as a sign that things are going well and will continue to do so. If you dream of a sage flower, you may have a successful marriage in your near future.
Today sage is thought to have some benefit for Alzheimer's patients. It may inhibit acetylcoholinesterase, an enzyme that contributes to the degeneration of the mind in these patients. Compounds such as tannin and phenolic acid, which are an astringent and a fighter of staph infection respectively, are present in sage. If you combine sage powder with sea salt and brush your teeth with the mixture, it may help prevent gum disease.
Sage's antioxidant properties have recently been utilized by the food industry as a stabilizer for oils that must be kept in storage for an extended period.
This herb originated in the Mediterranean, but it is presently cultivated in either Europe or the United States. California, Oregon and Washington are good places to find commercial cultivation.
Typically, it has a slender body and furry green-gray oblong leaves. These leaves often have rounded ends and rest in pairs on the stem. Some people think that the best sage plants come from seeds, but many more people think that the best plants come from cuttings of already established plants.
The flowers will bloom in mid-summer, but the leaves are what you really want if you're looking for good food additions. The flowers are also very attractive, making this plant not only good for gardens used in the kitchen, but also for decorative gardens.
It enjoys a good, well-drained alkaline soil. Most varieties are drought resistant and can survive winters, though they must be cared for carefully in the inclement weather.
Our Sage is grown in Albania and is quite aromatic with a taste that is slightly bitter and pungent.
Sage is by no means a subtle herb so we recommend that you use it sparingly as it will easily overpower a dish. Since it does not break down as quickly as some other herbs, you can add it wherever you'd like in the cooking process with little fear that it will lose its flavor.
Spice up a classic minestrone soup with a dash of this herb for some more fierce flavor. Another classic dish, fried gnocchi, can be improved with a melted butter and sage sauce.
When paired with vegetables, vegetables with impressionable tastes are your best bet. It cooks well with carrots, potatoes, and things like asparagus or green beans.
Any comfort food you can think of is only made better with sage. Macaroni and cheese, biscuits, mashed potatoes, butternut squash soups, or even pumpkin dishes all offer flavors that compliment this multidimensional herb. Though meats are often seen as the perfect companion to this herb, mushrooms can be fried with it in a pan of oil for a delicious flavor result and a great meat alternative. There are endless possibilities for cooking with sage.
Sage is high in calcium and is great for vegans if they are looking for a calcium alternative.
Sage tea is made by steeping the leaves in boiling water for a few minutes, or until the water has darkened enough for your preference. Adding honey and sugar to taste is optional, but not required. This can be drunk either hot or cold and is said to help with inflammation of the throat.
We like to use it when cooking sausages, poultry, pork, beef, lamb and fish. Traditionally, this herb gives the strong, memorable flavor to quintessential holiday staples like turkey and stuffing. Savory foods are made even better with this herb's incredible presence.
Sage balances well with balsamic vinegar, cream, cheese, lemons, mushrooms and onions. It also complements red wine.
It pairs well with basil, bay leaves, black pepper, garlic, lavender, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
Our favorite recipes using sage include Sweet and Spicy Herb Roasted Mixed Nuts and Butternut Squash and Sage Lasagna.
When using sage you have a few options. Sage leaves that are still attached to the stem can be used in recipes and removed before serving. If you wish to add sage to your dish and not remove it, you can use either rubbed sage or ground sage. Rubbed sage is the leaves of the sage plant that have been vigorously rubbed between two hard objects. A gentle grinding and then a quick run through a coarse sieve gives rubbed sage its fluffy, scruffy, almost cotton-like appearance, which is unique among ground herbs. Using rubbed sage guarantees that the oil of the sage is easily introduced to your other ingredients.
Ground sage, on the other hand, is simply the leaves of the sage plant that are put through a grinder. The result is a very concentrated fine powder that can be sprinkled into dishes. Ground sage must be used more quickly than rubbed sage because it loses its essentially oils quicker. For this reason, many chefs prefer rubbed sage.
"Garden sage" or "common sage" are both names for the kitchen variety. Dalmation sage, or English sage, is Salvia officinalis; clary sage Salvia sclaria; Spanish sage Salvia lavandulaefolia; and finally, Greek sage Salvia trilobal, are types of sage that are also used commonly.
There is a species of sage that exhibits strong psychoactive properties. This species is Salvia divinorum and it is said that this plant can induce visions or psychic experiences and is controversial in the United States.
Sage possesses a robust savory and peppery flavor so it is best partnered with other strong flavors like garlic and onion. It is earthy and warm.
For handy sage conversions use: 1 tablespoon chopped sage = 1 teaspoon dried sage and 12 sage leaves = 1 teaspoon dried sage.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
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