Sage: The Culinary Herb
Salvia officinalis (sage, also called garden sage, golden sage, kitchen sage, true sage, common sage, or culinary sage) is a perennial evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers.
It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and in modern times as an ornamental garden plant.
Cultivated forms include purple sage and red sage.
Cultivars are quite variable in size, leaf and flower color and foliage pattern, with many variegated leaf types. The Old World type grows to approximately 2 ft (0.61 m) tall and wide, with lavender coloured flowers most common, though they can also be white, pink, or purple. The plant flowers in late spring or summer.
The leaves are oblong, ranging in size up to 2.5 in (6.4 cm) long by 1 in (2.5 cm) wide. Leaves are grey-green, rugose on the upper side, and nearly white underneath due to the many short soft hairs.
Modern cultivars include leaves with purple, rose, cream, and yellow in many variegated combinations.
Culinary Uses for Sage
In Britain, sage has for generations been listed as one of the essential herbs, along with parsley, rosemary, and thyme.
"Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine"
It has a savory, slightly peppery flavor. Sage appears in the 14th and 15th centuries in a "Cold Sage Sauce", known in French, English and Lombard cookery. It appears in many European cuisines, notably Italian, Balkan and Middle Eastern cookery.
In Italian cuisine, it is an essential condiment for saltimbocca and other dishes, favored with fish. In British and American cooking, it is traditionally served as sage and onion stuffing, an accompaniment to roast turkey or chicken at Christmas or Thanksgiving Day.
Other dishes include pork casserole, Sage Derby cheese and Lincolnshire sausages. Despite the common use of traditional and available herbs in French cuisine, sage never found favor there.
In the Levant and Egypt it is commonly used as a flavor for hot black tea, or boiled and served as an herbal drink in its own right.
Sage Essential Oil
Common sage is grown in parts of Europe for distillation of an essential oil, although other species such as Salvia fruticosa may also be harvested and distilled with it.
The essential oil contains cineole, borneol, and thujone.
Sage leaf contains tannic acid, oleic acid, , ursolic acid, carnosol, carnosic acid, fumaric acid, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, niacin, nicotinamide, flavones, flavonoid glycosides, and estrogenic substances.
Some research has suggested certain extracts of salvia officinalis may have positive effects on human brain function,
In favorable conditions in the garden, sage can grow to a substantial size (1 square metre or more), but a number of cultivars are more compact.
As such they are valued as small ornamental flowering shrubs, rather than for their herbal properties. Some provide low ground cover, especially in sunny dry environments. Like many herbs they can be killed by a cold wet winter, especially if the soil is not well drained.
But they are easily propagated from summer cuttings.
Sage will grow almost anywhere as long as it is in full sun for most of the day. Sage does not like soil that is moist all the time. Avoid frequent watering even in the middle of the summer.
1.Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed.]
2.Space plants: 50 cm apart.
3.Harvest in approximately 18 months. Time reduced if grown from cuttings.
4.Compatible with (can grow beside): Broccoli, Cauliflower, rosemary, cabbage and carrots.
12 Health Benefits of Sage
This green herb is available fresh, dried or in oil form and has numerous health benefits.
Here are 12 surprising health benefits of sage.
1. Sage packs a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals, magnesium,zinc,copper and vitamins A, C, and E.
2. Sage contains over 160 distinct polyphenols, which are plant-based chemical compounds that act as antioxidants in your body.
3. Sage has antimicrobial properties that may kill microbes that encourage the growth of dental plaque.
4. Sage may help reduce the intensity and frequency of menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes and irritability.
5. While sage may lower blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity, more human research is needed.
6. Studies show that sage may improve memory, brain function and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Intake of sage and sage products have been shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels.
8. Test-tube and animal research suggest that sage may fight certain cancer cells, though human research is needed.
9. May alleviate diarrhoea: Fresh sage is a traditional remedy for diarrhea. Test-tube and animal studies found that it contains compounds that may alleviate diarrhea by relaxing your gut.
10. May support bone health: Vitamin K, which sage offers in large amounts, plays a role in bone health. A deficiency in this vitamin is linked to bone thinning and fractures.
11. May combat skin aging: Several test-tube studies suggest that sage compounds may help fight signs of aging, such as wrinkles.
12. Sage is incredibly versatile and easy to add to soups, stews and baked dishes. It’s available fresh, dried or ground.
Sage Pesto Recipe
Simple Sage Pesto
Makes approximately 8 ounces
2 cups fresh sage leaves, loosely packed
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
In the bowl of a food processor (or in a blender), add the sage, garlic, cheese and pine nuts. Pulse the ingredients a few times until chopped. In a steady stream, slowly add the olive oil while the food processor or blender is running. Stop to scrape down the sides once with a rubber spatula and add the salt and pepper. Run the processor for a few more seconds to combine thoroughly.
Toasted crushed walnuts go well in this recipe.
Transfer the pesto to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.