Sage (Salvia species)
Sage comes in many different varieties though all are mostly aromatic, perennial bushes with textured, velvety foliage. Varieties include common sage, purple sage, tricolour sage, blackcurrant sage, Greek sage, Clary sage and pineapple sage.
Sage’s flavour varieties from mild to a warm spiciness. In general, the other varieties of sage are milder than common sage.
Sage has a musky and camphorous aroma with astringent notes.
Sage aids in the digestion of fatty, rich foods and therefore is commonly paired with ingredients such as pork, goose, duck, turkey and mackerel. It is used to flavour stews, stuffing, pasta sauces, focaccia and polenta. In addition sage loves apples, dried beans, cheese, onions, tomatoes, spinach and root vegetables and marries with bay leaves, caraway, garlic, marjoram, paprika, parsley and thyme.
Sage grows best in loose, warm, dry soils and can be propagated by seeds, cuttings or root division. The bush grows to between 60-100cm high and develops 6cm oblong, hairy leaves which are best harvested between Spring and Autumn.
Sage is native to the north Mediterranean and in ancient times was known for its ability to ward off evil, snakebites and increase fertility. The Romans knew it as the ‘plant that saves and heals’ and were responsible for introducing the herb into Britain.
Sage has been renowned for its health benefits throughout the ages. It has been said to relieve indigestion, restore energy, improve memory and treat cuts, burns and eczema.
Sage leaves are antiseptic and therefore are used in gargles, mouth fresheners and teeth cleaning.
Facts about Sage
An ancient legend claims that when Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus where fleeing from King Herod the flowers of the field were asked to hide and shelter them but the only one that offered to protect them was sage. For this reason, Mary told the sage plant “From now to eternity, I give you the power to cure man of all illness and to save him from death, as you have done for me".
Commonly Asked Questions
Is sage best fresh or dried?
Sage can be consumed both fresh or dried however dried sage becomes more potent and acrid.