By Angela Keyser, Director of Marketing for High Quality Organics
When I ask you what herb reminds you of Thanksgiving, most of you will probably say sage. This perennial herb, native to the Mediterranean, is indeed quite popular at Thanksgiving. Often added to a stuffing or roasted turkey recipe, sage has a wonderful, slightly sweet and citrusy smell. Some say it smells camphorous, cleansing or purifying and it can linger for some time – good if you enjoy the smell, not so good if you don’t!
The botanical name for sage is ‘Salvia’ which, in Lattin, means “to heal” or “to save.” The reason sage was named this way is because it’s essential oils contain antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. (Sage is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, E and K – important antioxidants for health and wellness.)
Sage has been used for centuries not only in cooking but for medicinal purposes for many things including healing the common cold or flu and soothing insect bites. The Native Americans believe it wards off evil spirits and the Arabs believe it helps with immortality. At one time, the Chinese regarded sage so highly they would trade up to four pounds or sacks of tea (camelia sinensis) for one pound or sack of sage leaves to make tea. (While sage tea isn’t commonly found in most grocery stores, you can find it online.)
The sage plant is quite easy to grow, will weather over the winter and is fairly drought tolerant. So, it’s a great herb to try if you’re new to (or not so good at) gardening. It’s leaves are soft and blue-greyish in color and the plant can have delicate purple or blue flowers, depending on the variety.
Sage is an extremely versatile herb to use in the kitchen. Here are just a few delicious ways to play with it in your everyday cooking:– Steep in hot water for tea – Infuse in water with blackberries – Added to ice cubes (fresh only) – Eggs
– Flavoring for white bean dishes – Infuse with salt – Rub on poultry, pork or lamb – Incorporate into sausage – Savory flavor to bread or rolls – Simple syrup for cocktails – Savory flavor for homemade crackers – Soups and stews – Vegetables or potatoes