BOTANICAL NAME: Salvia sp. Lamiaceae
There are more than 700 species of salvias, many of them spectacular when in flower, and a number with leaves that are variously scented with pineapple, grapes, tangerine, grapefruit, anise, honey melon or fruit salad. Salvia flowers attract butterflies and nectar-sipping birds. Common or garden sage (officinalis) is one of the best-known culinary herbs, but there are also many ornamental species, all with small, lipped flowers in delightful shades, from white to dark purple. A subshrub native to the Dalmatian Coast, common sage has silver-gray elliptical leaves and spikes of attractive lavender, pink or white flowers. It is a pleasantly pungent culinary herb, which also aids digestion. In addition to the common form of garden sage, there are handsome broad-leaf varieties, such as “Berggarten”. and colored leaf forms, such as the purple-leafed “Purpurea”; the cream, pink and purple variegated Tricolor, and gold and green variegated Icterina.
Culinary Use of Sage Spice – Cooking with Sage
Of the many types, which all differ widely m flavor, common sage (S. officinalis) is the one most often used for cooking.
The aroma is highly pungent, while the flavor, which intensifies on drying, is savory, with camphorous overtones. Sage goes with starchy, rich and fatty foods such as duck, with poultry and pork (and stuffings for them), red meats, beans, eggplant, tomato-based sauces, casseroles and soups, and also in commercially prepared stuffing mixes and Italian dried mixed herbs.
You can also use deep-fried leaves as a garnish. Best used with a light hand in long-cooked dishes, sage is popular in Italy, less so in France. In the Middle East, it is used in salads. Sage tea is popular in many European countries. In Dalmatia, where sage grows wild, the flowers are used to make honey.
Different types of sage – taste
Three leafed sage
Native to Greece and Turkey, closely resembles garden sage except that most leaves are subtended by a basal pair of leaflets. The dried leaves are often sold as ‘garden sage.’ A hybrid between this species and garden sage, known as “Newe Ya’ar”, is cultivated commercially in Israel.
Spanish sage is also known as lavender sage, resembles a narrow leafed garden sage. It has a lavender and sage fragrance, and its oil is extracted for toiletries.
Clary sage or muscatel sage IS. sclarea, a biennial, is one of the most beautiful sages, forming a large rosette of broadly ovate, pebble-textured leaves and sending up tall dense spikes of large pink flowers. The leaves add a muscatel flavor to a diverse range of liqueurs, vermouths and wines, while the essential oil is used in perfumery. In water, the seeds become mucilaginous, and were once used to remove specks from the eyes.
White sage is a silver leafed, rosette shaped subshrub native to southwestern North America. The leaves are used by Native Americans as a flavoring, medicinally to reduce mucous formation and salivation, and for smudge sticks in purification ceremonies. The golden chia IS. columboriae), an annual, is native to the southwestern United States. Like chia (S. hispĂˇnica).
The root of red root sage or dan shen (S. miliiorrhiza) is used for many purposes In Chinese medicine. The leaves are divided into paired leaflets and the flowers are blue which was cultivated as an important staple crop by the Aztecs until colonization By the Spanish, it produces tiny oily seeds that are gluten-free, very rich in omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-imolemc acid), and high m anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. A third chia, S. polystachya, is also nutritionally valuable. Diviner’s sage IS divinorum) exists only in cultivation and has been used for many centuries by Mazatec shamans in Oaxaca, Mexico, to create visionary experiences and promote spiritual healing. Despite sensationalized media reports, it is neither LSD-like in action nor a “party drug.”
It is generally understood to be non-addictive, and toxicological studies have shown it to be non toxic. The plant is a prohibited substance in Australia, South Korea, Belgium, Italy and Denmark. Fragrant-leafed species Some of these species find culinary uses. Pineapple sage IS. tlegons syn. S wtitons) has slender spikes of red flowers and pineapple-scented leaves used to flavor drinks and garnish desserts.
Others include its variety ‘Honey Melon’; fruit salad or peach sage (S dorisiano), with large, lush spikes of rose-pink flowers and broad fruit-scented leaves; and the very fragrant California species, Cleveland sage IS. clevelandii). Found on several Greek islands, apple sage (S pomĂfero) forms fruit-like semi-transparent galls that are candied and eaten as delicacies.
How to grow sage spice – gardening
- Position: With few exceptions, the Salvia genus, particularly the gray-leafed species, requires a sunny, well-drained position Salvias generally make poor indoor plants and become easily infested with white fly and scale. S. officinalis prefers alkaline conditions.
- Propagation: Sages are propagated from seed, or by tip cuttings or division for named varieties.
- Maintenance: Most shrubby salvias respond well to gentle pruning or pinching back, particularly after flowering. Do not heavily fertilize these plants.
- Pests and diseases: Pick caterpillars off by hand. Sudden wilting indicates poor drainage and root rot
- Harvesting and storing: Harvest fresh leaves and flowers for culinary use at any time. Dry individual leaves and sprigs before flowering; spread them out in a well-aired place, then store in airtight containers.
- Home with sage: sage, like so many herbs, is rich in essential oils, antiviral, antibacterial, deodorizing and antifungal, and this is reflected by its old French name, route bonne, or “all is well.” Use the leaves to make herb vinegar spray and insect-repellent sprays. Alternatively, simply put a few drops of essential oil on a damp cloth when you’re wiping down bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Sage is also a moth-repellent – use it in dried herb or essential oil form to repel clothes moths and pantry moths In the garden, plant sage to repel cabbage moth.
Gently heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and 25 g butter in large frying pan over moderate heat. Add 1finely chopped onion and 2 finely chopped celery stalks. Cook about 10 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl Stir in 11⁄4 cups 1100 gl fresh white bread crumbs. 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh sage and fresh thyme and 1 lightly beaten egg. Mix well to bind the mixture: season generously with salt and pepper. Allow stuffing to cool completely. Use it to stuff a turkey. Alternatively, use mixture to loosely stuff a large chicken and cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish, putting it in the oven for the last 30 minutes of the chicken cooking time. To avoid the risk of food poisoning, do not stuff poultry until you are ready to cook It. To vary the recipe, try using 1 tablespoon each finely chopped fresh lemon grass and parsley in place of sage and thyme.