The wisdom of Sage
Sage is a herb that I have grown for many year and it is a member of the salvia family. Interestingly that means "to heal" in Latin so its medicinal qualities have been known for many centuries.
Apart from using sage in many recipes, shoving a handful in the cavity of a chicken and so on I have discovered that sage is actually useful in many other ways.
I have often cut back my sage and then used the flowers and stems in the house to fragrance that room but many cultures burn sage leaves to spiritually cleanse the home. I haven't tried burning it but it does last a good long while dried in my rooms.
Sage oil is great for boosting the circulation and stimulating skin. You can buy sage essential oil to add to carrier oils for massage or pop a few drops in your bath and this will keep you warm on cold nights. Add a few drops to a decent basic cream to make your own foot cream which will keep your feet warm and smelling good too.
I often grab a few leaves and crush them and add them to my bath and that gives a lovely herb like aroma. You could also blend the leaves and pop them in a muslin bag or tie them in an old handkerchief and hang it over the tap as the hot water comes in and that would give even more scent.
Sage is a natural deodoriser so you could add some essential oil to a cream and apply this to your armpits. Or blend some sage and rub that under your arm pits. Not tried it and it might make them a lovely green colour but at least you won't smell!
The smell of sage is a relaxing one used in aromatherapy so having a bunch in the room will also help calm and relax you.
Sage is also a natural astringent, it gets rid of excess oil which might clog pores. You could make a toner using witch hazel and sage essential oil. Add some to your rinse water after shampoo and conditioning and it will help combat greasy hair.
Sage is easy to grow and I have had mine in a pot for around ten years. It has survived the winters. Just make sure you cut off the long flower stems and enjoy them indoors as it does tend to get leggy if left and by cutting the stems back it gets bushier and looks better.
Thanks for reading. This review may be posted on other sites under my same user name.
I am lucky enough to have a herb garden and Sage has its place. Sage is a lovely looking little plant with soft fairly light green, purple leaves with little purple flowers. It grows quite tall, mine is around 1 foot tall. Sage tastes woody and is mainly popular as an a herb that lifts the flavour of meat, though as vegetarian I have found a number of great uses for the herb that I will share with you below.
Firstly though Sage is also known as a excellent medicinal herb that can help support health skin, teeth and bones has it has a high calcium content, it also contains potassium and iron and is a good source of Vitamin A, making it a pretty decent antioxidant as well.
Sage is very easy to grow and look after, and mine is thriving in a garden that has well drained soil and gets lots of sun, and it made it through the winter last year. Sage can be used fresh, picked straight from the plant, or it can be dried and stored for a few months. I tend to just use a few leaves as and when required, though I do sometimes use dried Sage.
In the winter I use Sage in casseroles, I find it goes well with Quorn sausages, to make the casserole, which tends to varying on what I have in the cupboard, I tend to fry onions in a little oil, add in a little bit of garlic and then add in some vegetables such as peppers, green beans, sweet corn, than I add in a tin of tomatoes, some salt and pepper and a good helping of sage leaves, the casserole is then left to bubble away until my husband or son shouts they are starving and I serve it all up with bread.
Sage also goes well with Butternut Squash which is my favourite vegetable of all time. I love to roast butternut squash and then add in some sage, salt and pepper and a bit of chilli or cayenne and eat it, or if I have a little more time I will make a Butternut squash risotto, with Sage leaves sprinkled over the top to add a nice earthy flavour to the dish. I also sometimes add Sage to mash potato when topping a shepherdless pie, but best of all I think Sage works well as a stuffing, with veggie sausages, roast potatoes and gravy.
I would recommend Sage to others as it tastes good, is easy to grow and has even been known to impart wisdom.
I bought a lovely herb pot that that holes for different herbs to grow out of. Sage was one of the herbs I decided to plant and I bought a very small plant and transferred it into my pot. I love cooking with sage and find it a wonderful flavour to cook it.
Home grown herbs add that extra touch to dinner parties and fresh herbs taste much better than dried. If you keep buying fresh herbs from a supermarket to use, you will end up spending a fortune. I have grown sage from seed and despite having a small amount of success it is certainly not as easy to grow as mint or rosemary. However when my seedlings were quite big enough I transferred them into my pots outside.
I love the smell of my fingers after I have handled the herb, it is a delicious smell. It is hard to describe though, I would say like a light pine, sweet and woody. Sage is very slow at establishing itself so you will have a long wait until you can pick the leaves and enjoy the flavour! If you grow herb from seed it is best to do it in the march and sow indoors first. In April you can transfer outside and then in June the following year it should be ready to harvest!
==Sage, likes and dislikes==
Sage loves the sun and once it is established and sat in a sunny place, it will thrive and become quite hardy, being quite tolerant to the change in seasons. My herbs are not ready to be picked yet as I fear that I will kill them but they smell good and are pleasant to look at. I reckon that after the summer I will be able to finally try my plant. The leaves are long and flat and to cut them you should pinch them with your fingers or cut with scissors. If you gently tap or rub the leaves this releases more of the flavour and scent. The herb does have a flower at certain times of the year, I have a very small one on mine. This is small and purple looking, rather like the rosemary one.
It's late winter, and while most things in my garden are dead, I'm still picking leaves from my sage plants to use in the kitchen. Not bad for a plant that prefers a middle eastern / Mediterranean climate! It's a very easy plant to grow, which makes itself useful when you're cooking too. Let me tell you a bit more about sage, or to use its Latin name, saliva officinalis.
A well known plant to the Romans and ancient Greeks, this is where it gets its name from and the fact that "sage" means knowledge or wisdom is a direct result of the belief in ancient times that this plant has brain enhancing powers. The prefix "salvia" from its Latin name means "to heal", as it was also recognised that the plant has antiseptic, antibacterial and digestive qualities. So, it's not just tasty as a herb, it's also good for you.
Growing your own
It really is very easy to grow sage from seed or a cutting, and before long you'll have a compact bush teeming with leaves just begging to be plucked. To grow from seed, place them in gritty compost on a warm sunny windowsill and keep the soil moist but not soaking - you should see them sprout in about a fortnight. When the seedlings have two sets of true leaves, they can be pricked out and moved into bigger individual pots. Harden them off before leaving outside in their final growing position. Like a lot of herbs, they like a sunny position and good drainage for their roots so I add a lot of sharp sand to my container before planting out any new sage plants. Sage is a perennial plant, but you must keep plucking the leaves to encourage new growth - otherwise the plant will become quite twiggy, like a small tree.
It's also easy to propagate new plants by layering them onto the soil (just like strawberry runners), allow them to develop their own root system and then cut free from the "mother" plant. This way you'll get a good few free plants a year from the one bush and won't have to buy seeds or new plants.
I cut off any flowers that appear in early summer / late spring - the presence of flowers dulls the taste of the leaves. Sage dries very easily and will store in a dark jar for months; all the while the flavour intensifies. I cut sprigs off the plant, remove any poorly looking leaves, shake them off to get rid of any creepy crawlies that may be hiding amongst the leaves, then hang up in a dim corner of my kitchen for about a week. After this week, the leaves have kept most of their colour and are very crispy, so I then scrunch all the dried leaves off into a plastic storage container, taking care not to get any bits of twig in there too. The scrunching action breaks up the leaves into small pieces which makes it easier to add the dried herb to recipes in the form of measured teaspoons.
Sage can also be chopped and frozen in olive oil in an ice cube tray, or stored in a bottle of oil. Storing the leaves in oil will also flavour the oil which is good for tasty salad dressings.
Cooking with sage
Sage works well with most meats and in my kitchen is a very good utility herb; there aren't many soups and stews and roasts that don't get sage added to them. It can be added to meals as fresh chopped leaves or dried powder, depending on what you prefer. For example, I use fresh chopped leaves in a herb butter when roasting turkey or chicken, and tend to use my dried store of sage when making soups and stews. For those with a taste for offal, it works very well with liver.
Don't spend good money on buying sage from a supermarket every time you need it for a recipe - grow a plant in a small container outside your back door and you'll have a plant that lasts for years and loves to be picked - the more you pick, the more it encourages fresh growth and keeps the plant manageable. A very versatile herb, it's with no doubt that it deserves the full five stars.
Sage, Salvia officinalis, is a leafy garden plant used as a culinary herb that if left alone can grow into a sprawling, woody stemmed shrub. The young plants are easily obtainable from garden centres as potted specimens and rarely cost more than a couple of quid. While there are many (I think, probably hundreds) of related plants of the genus Salvia grown as ornamental garden plants - for their sometimes dramatic tall flower-spikes as well as their foliage - I think I'm right in saying it's only the edible variety that has the very distinctive and characteristic 'sage and onion' aroma of herb sage.
Herb sage is available in a range of different leaf-coloured varieties, many of which are grown for their ornamental foliage in eg. municipal plantings, as summer bedding plants. (In fact, when I lived in a flat with no garden - this was in the days before you could buy fresh herbs in little packets in every supermarket - I used to occasionally nab a few ornamental sage leaves from the raised flower bed in the street outside, to use in my cooking). In general the longish, rounded-ended leaves have a slight, velvety 'nap' to the upper and lower surfaces and these are similarly-shaped across all the different varieties. The leaf colours range from the pale, faintly bluish grey-green of 'traditional' sage, through darker, almost purple-leaved varieties, to the attractive foliage of the green-and-yellow or white and blue-green variegated types. In its young and leafy state, sage takes the form of a smallish, rounded, upright plant not much more than maybe 20cm high.
If you leave sage planted in your garden long-term however, the stems turn woody and the plant begins to grow outwards, along the ground. My mother has a sage plant in her garden in Scotland that is at least 35 years old: it was there when she moved into the house in the mid 1970s, when it was at least a couple of years old already. It's quite leggy looking and covers maybe a couple of feet in area, being about a foot high. I think she prunes it back periodically, to try to retain the overall shape as the woody stems can get brittle with age, and it still produces leaves at the top of the stems that she uses in cooking. Despite this long-lived sage having survived and flourished through decades of Scottish winters, the one I had in my back garden in Gloucestershire, that had reached a similar woody, leggy state died back after only a few years. I suspect these plants can tolerate the cold if they don't get too waterlogged, but where I had mine was a part of the garden that was too shady to allow it to flourish. (I've had similar problems with other Mediterranean herbs such as rosemary in that area also).
In culinary terms, I'm afraid that though sage is an indispensible component of sage and onion stuffing, there isn't that much else that I use if for in the kitchen. Due to the aromatic oils in the leaves, it has a very strong flavour that can easily become acrid and bitter if you use too much of it. It can also be made into sage tea to drink if you particularly like the flavour, and the tea can also be used as a hair-rinse which reputedly is beneficial for conditioning darker coloured hair. (In my teens I used to try this with my mum's garden sage and though it smells nice enough, I can't say I noticed that much difference afterwards myself.)
I have always loved growing herbs because even from seed they don't take long to start growing and I think it's fascinating watching something tiny sprout through and knowing you're going to be eating it soon.
One of the herbs I grow regular is sage because even though it's quite a slow grower it looks wicked and when the leaves are ready to be picked they are a lot herbier than dried sage.
Sage needs loads of light and well drained soil. I always start mine off in small pots and then transfer them to the garden when they are big enough to cope with the weather. I grow it from seed so that I can start them off at different times and harvest the herbs at regular intervals from the different sized plants.
We get full sun in our back garden and that's important for sage because it won't thrive if it's left in a dull place. Sometimes I have to move the plant pots from window to window when I'm growing it in the house because 2 days without full sun is enough to ruin your plant. Sage also withers quite quick if it gets cold, it will sometimes bounce back but not always so I wouldn't risk leaving it in a draught while the plant is still small. Once it's in the garden it'll be fine though so you haven't got to stress about the cold, the stem of the sage plant is quite brittle though so if it's forecast to be windy then you should tie the plant to a cane to prevent it breaking.
You can start picking the leaves as soon as they reach a good size, you can then use the leaves straight away or dry and chop them before putting into your herb jars. You can even freeze chopped dried sage so if you grow your own you should never have to buy it again!
My Tricolor sage plant was looking way past its best; it was about 4 or so years old, rather woody and about 3 feet high. I had bought it as a small plant from a garden centre for a couple of pounds. I had certainly had my moneys worth from this plant so I took some cuttings in the autumn which is supposed to be very easy to do. Unfortunately the strong winds of a couple of weeks ago blew down a garden fence panel and many of the pots and young plants that were nearby were either squashed or were blown all across the garden. To cut a long story short I shall now have to restock my sage from a garden centre.
The herb sage originates from the Mediterranean areas and the proper name of the regular sage is Salvia officinalis. The word Salvia comes from the Latin salvere which means to heal or save. The use of sage can be traced back to the ancient Greek times when it was used for medicinal purposes. It is still commonly used in medicines and cosmetics today for its antiseptic and cleansing properties. Some even say that gargling with a sage infusion (i.e. a tea like mixture) will ease a sore throat but I must confess I have never tried this. In the kitchen this is the classic herb to go with pork or to combine with onion to make a stuffing.
Sage is a hardy, ever green shrub which can be grown in a pot or as an ornamental plant in the flower garden. There are many different varieties of sage including the very pretty Tricolor which, as the name suggests, has variegated leaves which are green in the middle with white edges and the young leaves are also splashed with pink. This variety is slightly less hardy than the others and so may need protecting during the winter months. Other favourites of mine are the purple sage with purple/grey leaves and golden sage with golden/green leaves. Which ever variety you decide to grow, they all like a sunny position with well drained soil.
Sage can be grown from seed but as I only want a couple of plants, and probably of two different varieties, I think I will buy them as small plants. The seeds are easy to grow and can be sown directly into the soil in late spring when all danger of frost has past. They do grow rather slowly at first and you probably won't have plants big enough to regularly harvest until the second year when their growth really takes off. As they eventually grow quite big, once the seedlings are a few inches tall they should be thinned out to about a foot apart if you intend to keep them in situ. Take care not to over water as the roots do not like getting too wet and are prone to rotting if the soil is waterlogged for a prolonged period. This is of course the same if you have the plant in a pot. If growing your sage in a pot try putting a good layer of stones in the bottom of the pot before the compost and this will help with the drainage. Sage produces lovely purpley flowers on a spike in early summer which seems to attract the bees. Unfortunately white fly also seem to like my sage but, as I don't spray, I just have to live with them. The flower stalks can be cut back after flowering. In early autumn the plant can be cut down to about half its size and this will help to keep a bush like shape.
The leaves are easy to pinch off the stem when you want to use some in the kitchen. It is also easy to freeze sage leaves if you wish. All you need to do is pick and wash some leaves. Dry them well on some paper towel and place in a plastic freezer bag. I would suggest placing a few leaves in lots of small bags, if you see what I mean, that way you only need to defrost what you need to use in one go. It is also possible to dry the leaves, although I have never personally done this. All you need do is pick how ever many leaves you require on a dry day, spread them out on a tray and store in a warm dry place, an airing cupboard would be ideal. When they are dry and crisp store them in an air tight container. I am not sure how long this would take but I would guess a couple of weeks.
Why do I grow sage? Well, it would be the same answer for all the fruit and veg that I grow. I love to go outside my back door and pick a handful of fresh herbs to add to my cooking; there is something rather satisfying about picking something and immediately cooking and eating it. I also know for sure that they have no pesticides or any other nasties added to them.
I will very briefly share a couple of ideas of how I use sage.
The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, sage and onion stuffing. As always my quantities are very approximate as in practise I rarely weigh anything. You will need 3 onions, about 10 sage leaves, 4oz breadcrumbs (about 3 slices of bread whizzed in the blender), a small slice of butter (about 1-2oz), 1 egg yolk and some salt and pepper.
Peel and chop the onions, simmer in a pan of water for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the chopped sage leaves for the last minute. Strain and add to the breadcrumbs and salt & pepper. Mix in the egg yolk and the melted butter with a spoon. You can use this mixture to either stuff a joint or to make small balls which can be baked on a tray in the oven to serve separately.
Sage can also be used to make herb bread. I use a bread maker so follow your own dough recipe throwing in some finely chopped sage leaves (about 6 depending on size). You don't need many leaves as they do have quite a strong flavour. This makes a delicious herby bread to go with vegetable soup.
So there we have it, an easy and pretty plant to grow, with lovely aromatic leaves that can be used in the kitchen. Give it a try!
©perfectly-p 2008 (aka perfectlypolished)
Back again Im afraid with another herb review; I love the feedback I am getting from my reviews. I was asked to pass some information on the herb Sage.
A warning comes with this herb as drinking to much in a herbal tea can cause a toxic poisoning.
Sage - Salvia
There is over 700 species of this herb and its widely found throughout the world, and can be an annual, biennial and a perennial.
This review covers the culinary and medicinal part of the herb.
The name Salvia comes from the Latin salveo which means I save or heal, this is because some of the species have a high regard in the medical world.
The Greeks first used the herb to treat ulcers and snake bites. The Romans considered the herb to be sacred and used it at ceremonies. They used a special knife what was not made of iron as Sage reacts to iron, they also had to wear clean clothes and make sure they had clean feet.
The Chinese in the 17th Century where mad for Sage and Dutch traders would trade 3 cases of tea for 1 Sage, not sure why but I can imagine it was for the medicinal side of the plant.
Sage can be grown from seeds very easy when sown in the spring, cover a seed tray with multi-purpose compost and scatter seeds on the surface, then lightly cover with perlite.
If your going to get a head start on spring, sow and place somewhere warm around 60-70oF.
Germination takes about 3 weeks but can be quicker, Pot on or plant outside when the frosts have past.
As it has a strong aroma the herb doesnt suffer to bad from pests, but the red spider mite is the main problem. This can be got rid of using a horticultural soap.
Cutting can also be taken, take the cuttings in early spring or summer and place in a pot of multi-purpose compost where it should root in about 4 weeks.
Can be grown in containers but dont over water.
For 100s of years Sage has been known for its healing powers, its used to great effect as a hot infusion for the common cold, its also good for sore throats when cider vinegar is added and gargled.
The essential oil, which is commonly known as Sage Clary is obtained by steam distillation of the fresh flower stems and leaves.
It is used in herbal medicine and used widely in toilet waters, perfumes and soap.
Sage is thought to help the brain, the senses and memory, and is good for fatigue, and for normalising low blood pressure
The dried leaves of the Pineapple sage are used for potpourris; its also added to vermouth and liqueurs.
When used it adds a lovely flavour, aids digestion of fatty food.
As Sage is an antiseptic it kills off any bugs in the meat as it cooks. It also makes great vinegar and a great olive oil.
I like it in the cavity of fresh fish and of course in the cavity of chicken.
Try making a apple sauce to go with pork and mix some well chopped Sage in, you will be surprised at how well it tastes.
If you like to make your own bread try adding some chopped herbs, it smells fantastic as it cooks and tastes even better.
Sage Tea is refreshing BUT you must not drink to much as it can become toxic.
Put the kettle on and boil, when its boiled pour a cup of boiling water onto 2 teaspoonfuls of the leaves and let infuse for 5 minutes.
Again I give a warning about the tea, to much consumption of sage can lead to poisoning, If you drink the tea for more than two week the antiseptic properties can cause a potential toxic effect.
It can also stop mothers from breast feeding so avoid.
As with all herbal medicine do your researches before you use it
Thanks for reading my reviews, and thankyou for rating them.
Tashi Delek (May everything be well)
enlightened_one © 2007
Review also on Ciao
Sage, thats the herb that goes with the onion to make a stuffing for the Christmas or Thanksgiving diner, isnt it. Well thats probably as much as most people think about this most versitile of plants, but thousands of years before Pilgrims sailed to America, and turkeys found their way to the European dinner table, people all over the world were celebrating the healing qualities of the plant. Indeed the very name, Salvia, comes from the latin "to heal". There is an in joke in the medical community that if you consult enough alternative manuals on the uses of Sage you will find that it is the cure for all known diseases. Sage is no cure all but does have a wide range of uses.
In the garden theSage is a perennial evergreen shrub that reaches to about 3 feet and produces flowers of pink, white, blue or purple. Good drainage and plenty of sunshine are required and if a cold spell is expected a good mulch should protect the plants enough to ensure their survival. New plants can be propogated from seeds or cuttings and will be well established after about two years. After about four years the plants become woody, less productive and less potent in their effectiveness and so ensure that you have a new set of plants on the go each year so that you can discard the older plants and to ensure the most useful supply of Sage.
Pliny, the Roman naturalist listed its use in association with snakebites, epilepsy, chest ailments and menstruation. In the 10th century Arab physicians believed that it extended life to the point of immortality, an idea that was brought back with the crusading knights and led to the saying " why should a man die when sage grows in his garden?" Its uses were recorded all over the world and through out history, Icelandic herbalists, Dutch explorers and Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions were all aware of its properties.
Toute Bonne, its French name means "alls well" and though this may be over selling its potential it does have a wide range of uses in the healing category. Sage when ingested has also been shown to cut perspiration by 50% in a lot of tested people and so acts as natures anti-perspirant, even being used in over the counter product in Germany.
Like many common garden herbs, Sage has an affect on infection causing bacteria and so is useful in dressing wounds . In the past Sage would be bound on to the hand, but in this age of claen water its probably enough to use it as a temporary emergancy cleanser and just wash some into the wound before bandaging.
Due to its ability to slow oxidization in meat it has long been used as a food preservative. Indeed the reason that we use such flavours as Sage, Rosemary and Thyme is not just to please the taste buds, but due to its widespread use in food preparation in pre-refridgeration days. Like most culinary spices, Sage acts as a relaxant and aid to digestion due to its soothing properties within the body.
Tests in Germany have shown that diabetics who drink Sage infusions on an empty stomach experience a reduction in blood sugar. The warning here is that Diabetes is a serious condition and I would not advocate the use of Sage in this instance with out consulting your doctor.
Other uses are as a hot gargle for sore throats and tonsillitis. Sage has been known to cause an inflamation of the lips, but the chemical responsible for this is made inpotant by heat, so if gargles and infusions are always taken hot the risk is negligable
An infusion is made by adding dried leaves to boiling water in the same quantities that you would make a cup of tea, sage unlike many natural out of the garden infusions does taste pungent and reasonably pallatable and as such is easy to fit into your daily routine or diet. Sage oil is however known to cause toxicity in some people and should only be used externally and never ingested.
Sage has often been used for smudging, the practice of burning small bundles of the plant in an area to purify it. It does create a pungent smell and in more open areas create a nice background smell to cooking or other unwanted smells. An alternative to this is to use a concentrated oil extraction as a freshener either as a pray of by putting some drops on the radiator, fireplace or on candles. Just soak a jar of fresh sage in sunflower oil and leave for a couple of weeks.
Sage and Rosemary burnt on the barbeque whilst cooking will add some lingering flavours to the meat and make the place smell fresh and remind you of woodlands.
So not just for stuffing into the business end of a Turkey dinner, Sages has a mass of uses and is easily grown in a well light garden, try using it from time to time, you may be surprised but the worst that can happen is that your food will taste better and the house will smell nice.
Well, to tell the truth the claim made in my title is somewhat exaggerated! The ancient Greeks believed that sage could cure all ailments and that if the herb was grown in the garden a family would never need to consult a doctor. Folk tradition in some parts of the Eastern Mediterranean still holds this to be true today. The sage bush (Salvia Officinalis) has flat, greyis/white leaves and grows on dry Mediterranean soils. You will find it in almost all Greek gardens. Sage is an excellent tonic and combats tiredness, helps recovery from illness and aids digestion. It is particularly good for anyone who suffers from night sweats as it helps to balance the endocrine system. It also stimulates oestrogen production so it is useful in the treatment of oestrogen deficiency, especially during the menopause. This versatile herb can also be used to soothe sore throats, sinus trouble and asthma. CAUTION: +++++++ Women who produce a lot of oestrogen should not use sage on a regular basis. It could actually make their condition worse. COOKING: +++++++ Sage is an excellent seasoning for vegetables, including potatoes and tomatoes. It also blends well with white meats. (You don't have to keep it just to use when stuffing turkeys and chickens.) MEDICINE: +++++++++ Put 3 tablespoons of dried sage into a litre of boiling water and let it stand for at least 15 minutes before filtering. Drink no more than three cups per day to help coughs, sore throats and sinus trouble. TONIC: ++++++ Pour one litre of boiling hot wine over 80 grams of dried sage. Leave for three days and strain. Two or three tablespoons after meals helps digestion and provides a stimulating tonic for the body. (The Greeks recommend this as a treatment for diabetes but I would suggest that if you want to try it, you consult a doctor or dietician first. Everyone is
different!) VERDICT: ++++++++ This is a cheap and versatile herb. It is readily available in UK. Most people have used sage in stuffing, or, at least, eaten it that way but it has many other uses. The tonic wine is actually quite good. Try some for yourself and you might be pleasantly suprised!
Sage was in widespread use in medieval times as a 'cure all' herb. It has many uses today too of course though. It's antiseptic qualities can help to combat throat infections, laryngitis, asthma and sinusitis. A few fresh sage leaves infused in boiling water with a little homey added makes a great gargle. Strain the mixture when cool and before taking it. Having a tonic effect on the system, sage has a useful place in problems of the reproductive system. It can regulate erratic periods and even aid fertility, it is said! Sage tea can reduce hot flushes in menopausal women and alleviate mood swings through fluctuating hormone levels. I haven't tried this (as I only have a few stragglers at the moment) but it is said that sage can restore colour to hair that has gone gray prematurely if used as a rinse. It is also helpful for dandruff. For those suffering from stress, sage and nettle tea can have a calming and soothing effect on the nervous system and in the elderly a sage tincture can alleviate slightly confusion and forgetfulness. All in all, a very versatile herb which is easily available from health food shops and supermarkets.
Its not widely known but sage burns very well if you dry it. Its a popular ingrediant for smudging sticks, so if you have any negative energy that you want to get rid of, dry some of your sage (I hear that two year old sage is best) tie it up with string and burn it slowly. The smoke produced is pleasantly aromatic, and makes a nice alternative to incense. Sage is very easy to grow, and will produce a large and fairly atractive bush that will survive in quite inhospitable gardens. For the more conventional amongst you, it goes well in chicken stuffings, in soups, stews and sauces. I woudn't recomend eating it raw, and it does seem to be popular with insects, so wash thoroughly before use.
Sage has been about for Centuries, originally from the Mediterranean coast in Particular the old Yugoslavia where it is found wild in the hills. It has over 750 varieties and is very hardy. Provided the soil is well drained it will survive the harshest of winters but it does require a sunny spot for the few days of the year that we actually do get sun!!! The seeds need to be sown late spring and needs to be pruned the following spring. The only bad thing about sage is that it must be replaced every six or seven years as it gets a very woody taste. The plant grows to some sixty centimetres in height and bushes out very wide. The leaf is green and has a very funny feeling to it. The plant flowers in July and is a very nicely coloured purple. The plant is best used for fatty meats ideally for stuffing, also very nice with cheese dishes. In the olden days it was used in a tea for anxiety or sleeplessness but mainly for sore throats and mouth infections. Fresh sage rubbed in your mouth will also strengthen your gums my dentist once told me. It was also used by the Romans to colour their hair and in bath water. Its probably best known for sage and onion stuffing but believe me it tastes ten times better when you make it yourself with fresh sage.
Sage is originally a Mediterranean plant, possibly brought over by the Romans, and also brought over by the French to English monasteries during the Middle ages. During these times it was recognised as a useful medicinal plant and used as a physic herb. Sage is recognised by it's grey/green leaves that have a rough cloth like texture and will mature to silvery grey, especially in a dry summer. It has an instantly recognisable pungent aroma that is commonly used as a mixture with onion to stuff turkey. There are a few varieties available such as purple sage, (especially good for gargling to cure sore throats) and pineapple sage. Sage grows particularly well in light chalky soil but is also one of the few herbs that will tolerate heavy clay soils provided that there is reasonable drainage. They do require a sunny position. After buying a pot grown plant it needs to be planted out in a suitable position. For the first year there will not be much growth so there will not be much to cut. Subsequent years will require frequent cutting that will keep the plant bushy. If the plant has become leggy it may be cut back in spring, but be careful that the wood is not too old as it may not shoot again. If this is the case then it is best to start again with a fresh plant or to take cuttings. These need to be taken every three to four years to ensure that the plant does not become too woody. Cuttings will root easily in water, particularly the younger shoots. They are best taken a year before they are needed to allow the plant to become established before planting out to replace an old plant. Sage is especially resistant to most common garden pests. It can also be grown in a pot on a sunny kitchen windowsill. Sage is best picked for drying on a sunny day when the dew has evaporated off. Leaves can be dried on brown paper in a warm sunny spot or small branches hung upside down in an airy place, allowing free movement of air to prevent the lea
ves dampening off and going mouldy.
Sage is a good foliage plant that sits happily in the herb garden, a mixed border or even a pot. The leaves are a soft dusky green, often with a purple tinge and, although some varieties have pink or even yellow flowers, the most common colour is a stunning mauve blue that really cheers the heart. The common sage is a pretty hardy plant and mine have gown on for five years now in the south. Plant them in a sunny spot and you should only need to protect them if the weather is particularly icy. Some of the less common varieties may be better grown as annuals and you might want to start them off in pots so you can keep an eye on them. The plants easily grow to about three foot or so in a season, but are easy to keep trimmed if you want a more compact shape. Sage is well worth growing for its appearance alone but the leaves are good in lots of cheese and meat dishes, think sage and onion stuffing. It has a reputation for being good for conditions affecting the mouth or throat and the leaves are quite palatable chewed raw (one at a time) and do leave your mouth feeling fresh. Alternatively you could dry the leaves and steep them in hot water to make tea or a gargle for sore throats. One particularly mouth watering, less common variety is the Pineapple Sage. This has a luscious fruity fragrance and makes a delicious drink. The leaves make an unusual, but perfect, addition to fruit salads or summer cups. Beware though, this plant is a lot more tender and I haven’t been able to over winter it yet.
Salvia officinalis is a small evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region. It is much cultivated as a kitchen and medicinal herb, and is also called Garden sage, Kitchen sage, and Dalmatian sage. In southern Europe related species are sometimes cultivated for the same purpose, and may be confused with the common sage. Although this plant was the one originally called by this name sage, a number of related species are now also called by it, and are described in more detail in the article on sage.