Sage has long, textured, velvety, grey-green leaves on a furry square stem. It has a tenacious, earthy flavour that is highly aromatic with hints of musk and bitter mint.
Sage has a strong flavour that is best used sparingly. It aids in the digestion of fatty foods and is traditionally used with pork, duck, goose, turkey and mackerel. It is used to flavour sausages, stuffing, stews, pasta sauces, cheese, and bread. Try it with parsley, rosemary, and thyme.
Sage helps reduce sweating and other fluid secretions from the body. It brings a fever down and acts as an anti-septic in mouthwashes and gargles. It is a cornerstone of traditional European herbal medicine, and has been applied to virtually every ailment imaginable.
Sage is a hardy herb that will retain its freshness in the fridge, where it should be stored in the original punnet. It can be dried for storage by placing the stalks on a plate or in a paper bag and keeping in a cool, dry, dark place for a few days. Alternatively, bundle and tie the stalks and hang them. It can also be frozen by placing in a zip-lock bag as is. Seal and freeze overnight.
Culture and History
Sage is native to the Mediterranean and has a rich history of use. It was mostly used as a medicinal herb and had a reputation as a cure-all. It was believed by classical Greeks and Romans to impart wisdom, and this association remains relevant today in the modern English use of the word sage, meaning contemplative or enlightened.