2.3 Sage

Latin names: Salvia officinalis - sage
Salvia elegans - Pineapple sage
Salvia dorisana - Melon-scented sage
and other scented Salvia species.

2.3.1 Growing sage

From: Linda Kovacs (kovacsla.vnet.ibm.com)
Sage is a perennial here in zone 5. It's a very easy-to-grow plant. Half a day of sun, reasonable soil, and don't let it get too awfully dry.

The main problem with sage is to keep it under control. I've never had any insect problems with it. Pinch small plants to make them branch, then let them grow to harvesting size. Don't let stems get so tall that they lay down, or you'll end up with a twisted, woody mess in a couple of years.

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)

From: Jennifer Zahn <jszahn1.facstaff.wisc.edu>
I have a pineapple sage plant, and since last summer, the stems have become tall and woody. Now all but one are dead, and I'm afraid to trim back the remaining remnant. Any tips on how I can revive this plant? Ideal conditions? It was inherited and I never learned much about it.
And what do woody stems mean, anyway?

From: Harold <orchids.communique.net>
Hi, Jennifer. If the plant were mine I would cut all of the stems back close to the ground. New stems will grow from soil level and provide you with lots of vigorous new growth. You may want to root the tips of the remaining growth. Pineapple Sage roots very easily and can make a substantial plant in just one season. If your plant grows too spindly you can always pinch or cut the stems back part way to cause them to bush out more.
Woody stems just mean they are old.
BTW, I'm surprised you have living tissue on your plant, considering how far north you are. Here in southern Louisiana mine die back to the soil almost every year.

From: Joe VanDerBos <joevanderbos.bdt.com>
Pinapple sage will look better cut back to the ground and given a chance to try all over again.
Pineapple sage: The indestructible filler plant.

From: weed <avril_tolley.berlex.com>
Pineapple sage routinely gets woody, so prune away. It may be that it just looks dead. This sage, Salvia elegans, is very easy to root, so if you're worried about the rest of the plant, take several cuttings from what you think is the remaining living stem and pot them up. You can dip the end in something like "Rootone" if you like, but I find they root without it. They will look dead for a while, and the top may actually die. Eventually you'll get new leaves near the bottom. Pineapple sage benefits mightily from hard pruning, although I never go below about a foot and ½. because I just hate to prune. It's a little tender, so sometimes, if I think it may be exposed to frosts in winter, I'll root a bunch of cuttings and overwinter them to be sure I have some the next year. I usually end up giving these away, because mine generally makes it. Hummingbirds love this, as they do most sage. Really nice plant. Mine is by my front walk, so I have to brush up against it to get to the garage.

2.3.2 Harvesting sage

From: Linda Kovacs (kovacsla.vnet.ibm.com)
Harvest sage before it blooms. After the dew dries in the morning, cut the stems, leaving a leaf or two at the bottom. I air-dry my sage, stringing the stems on a strong thread and hanging it in a breeze.

It will dry leathery rather than crisp, because the leaves are so thick. Strip the dry leaves from the stems and place the leaves into a jar. Chop or rub the leaves into powder when you need to use them.

To use fresh sage, clip off enough of a branch to get the number of leaves you need, strip off the leaves, and chop them up if desired.

2.3.3 Using / preserving sage

Uses for Sage flowers: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/salvia.html
Sage uses: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/sage.html

> I have a very healthy sage plant in my garden but I don't know what to use the herb for, except of course for stuffing a chicken.

From: engels.wibla.mv.att.com (engels s.m.)

  • Stuff a few leaves into the cavity of a trout. Tie with string, baste with a little oil and grill. Use only 1 or 2 leaves per fish otherwise the sage will overpower the fish.
  • Chop fine, lightly saute in olive oil with minced garlic. Add a little chopped parsley & toss with spaghetti or other pasta. Serve as a side dish to grilled chicken, fish or meat.
  • Toss a few sage leaves with quartered onion and flattened garlics into clay pot chicken.

From: mrooney.mrooney.pn.com (Michael Rooney)
We use sage for stuffing turkeys in addition to chickens, if you have turkeys in the UK. We also use it in foccacia... ...Sage pesto is another way to use large quantity of sage and it can be frozen to be used in the winter. You might use walnuts or pecans instead of the traditional pignoli nuts in pesto as sage is stronger than basil.
It goes well with pork or chicken. You can also roast eggplant and sweet red pepper and food process them together with sage for a nice dip to be used with homemade French bread.

From: ag500.ccn.cs.dal.ca (Peter Mortimer):
It also makes a great addition to just about any green salad, either tossed in as whole leaves or cut up in small pieces.

From: rgyure.aol.com (RGyure):
I discovered last summer that garden sage makes a beautiful and fragrant addition to fresh cut flower bouquets I bring in from the garden. I grow more than I can use in cooking (who uses that much sage?)-- and the pale green, white-frosted somewhat sparkly leaves make delightful foliage for cutting-- and are long-lasting.

From: vshafer216.aol.com (VShafer216):
I recently tried a really good recipe that uses fried sage--it tastes great. Broil chicken thighs (marinate first). When done, fry several leaves of sage in butter; this takes less than a minute.

Grate cheese on top of the chicken thighs. Spoon some of the hot butter over the chicken (this melts the cheese) and put one or two sage leaves on top of each piece of chicken. Fried sage tastes good even without the chicken.

From: jrogow.ridgecrest.ca.us (Judith Rogow)
Dried and added to a fire at Thanksgiving or Christmas, it adds a nice Holiday scent to the house.

From: lebasil.ag.arizona.edu (Leslie Basel)
Sage jelly is just terrific with game, lamb, even a Christmas goose. The recipe is just the same as any other herb jelly (and it requires quite a bit of culinary sage). (see herb jelly, 4.6.1).

From: melatchley.aol.com (MelAtchley)

  • Decorative: Leaves in wreaths and nosegays.
  • Culinary: Flower in salads or infuse for a light balsamic tea. Leaves can be mixed with onion for poultry stuffing. Cook with rich, fatty meats such as pork, duck and sausage. Combine with other strong flavors: wrap around tender liver and saute in butter; blend into cheeses. Make sage vinegar and sage butter.
  • Household: Dried leaves in linen to discourage insects.
  • Medicinal: Leaves aids in digestion and is antiseptic, antifungal and contains estrogen. Helps to combat diarrhea. An infusion of sage leaves and a meal can help digestion.

From: baldwin.frodo.colorado.edu (Dan Baldwin)
I had sage mashed potatoes as a side dish at a five star restaurant last week--they were really good ! There were flecks of sage scattered all through the potatoes--Can't wait to try it myself.

From: Linda Kovacs (kovacsla.vnet.ibm.com)
Here's an oddity: sage makes a good insect repellent! Put a handful of sage sprigs and 3 mint sprigs in a pot. Pour over them 1 quart of boiling water and allow to steep. When cool, strain out the herbs and add 1 quart of rubbing alcohol. To use, splash or spray onto hair, skin, clothes. It won't stay on if you're sweating heavily or swimming, but otherwise it's great.

From: engels.wibla.mv.att.com (engels s.m.):
Sage dries very nicely and looks pretty. Bundle 8-10 sprigs, tie, hang to dry and put a red bow on it at Xmas. Use as a decoration for wrapped gifts or give as an small culinary gift.

From Karen White
Sage - I take dried sage and run it through the food processor (until it's like rubbed sage), and then pat onto pork chops. Sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and summer savory on them too, then saute in olive oil. They taste great!

Focaccia with Sage

Rosemary focaccia: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/rosemary.html
Focaccia: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/foccacia.html

From: mrooney.mrooney.pn.com (Michael Rooney)

Deriving its name from the Latin word focus, meaning "hearth," focaccia evolved from the unleavened hearth cake eaten during the Middle Ages. It was made by patting the dough into a flat round and cooking it directly on a hot stone or under a mound of hot ashes. While it has become something of a national dish, this popular bread's true home is the area around Genoa. It seems as if every seaside resort on the Italian Riviera has its own special focaccia. Whether soft or crisp, thick or thin, the dough is typically flavored with local herbs and olive oil.

0.5 cup warm water (105 to 115 deg.F)
1 tsp. dry yeast
0.75 cup unbleached all purpose flour

Place 0.5 cup water in large bowl. Stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is cloudy, about 10 minutes. Stir in flour. Cover with plastic. Let stand until very bubbly, about 45 minutes.

1 cup warm water (105 to 115 deg.F)
1 tsp. dry yeast
0.25 cup plus 2 tbs. olive oil
3.25 cups unbleached all purpose flour
3 tbs. finely chopped fresh sage

Place 1 cup water in small bowl. Stir in yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves and mixture is cloudy, about 10 minutes. Stir in dissolved yeast mixture and 0.25 cup olive oil into sponge in large bowl. Stir in 1 cup flour. Stir in 2 tbs. chopped sage. Add remaining flour in 2 batches, mixing until well blended after each additions. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface. Knead dough until soft and velvety, about 10 minutes.

Oil large bowl. Add dough, turning to coat with oil. Cover with plastic. Let dough rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Oil 11x17 inch baking sheet. Punch down dough. Transfer to prepared sheet. Using oiled hands, press out dough to cover bottom of pan. Cover dough with kitchen towel. Let stand 10 minutes (dough will shrink). Press out dough again to cover pan. Cover with towel. Let rise in warm draft free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, position rack in center of oven. Place baking stone on rack and preheat oven to 425 deg.F.

Using fingertips, press dough all over, creating dimples. Drizzle dough with 2 tbs. oil. Sprinkle with 1 tbs. sage.

Place pan directly on pizza stone. Spray oven with water from spray bottle. Bake until focaccia is golden and top is crisp, spraying oven with water twice more during first 10 minutes, about 25 minutes total. Transfer bread to rack. Cool slightly. Serve bread warm or at room temperature.

Makes one foccacia, 4 servings. Per serving, 400 calories, 13 g protein, 87 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 3 g fiber, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol and 0 mg sodium.

Bon Appetit, May 1995

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)

Best of the herbal forums: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/pineapple-sage.html
Best of the herbal forums: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/pineapple-sage-1.html

>It's so smelly! How did ma nature ever get such a sweet sniffy plant? I love that stuff! Now the question: what do i do with it?

From: Rastapoodle.newsguy.com (Rastapoodle)

  • It is great chopped fine and mixed with cream cheese and crushed pineapple for a dip/spread with crackers.
  • Also, crush leaves and let them steep with fruit to flavor a fruit salad.
  • A sprig is a great garnish for an iced tea, especially if the red flowers are on the sprig.
  • It makes a great iced tea in itself -- steep as you would any tea.
  • Dry and mix with potpourri.
  • If you like S. elegans, you will *flip* for S. dorisana, "Melon-scented Sage", available from Logee's Greenhouse. I'm addicted to both varieties.

From: "Martin Witchard (Cat)" <mwitchar.metz.une.edu.au>
How about adding some leaves to a cooling drink? - would go perfectly with lemonade! Also (and I've not tried this one), lay some leaves out on the base of the cake tin before cooking - the 'taste' should infuse up through the mixture. Anyway, there's a couple of suggestions,

From: es051447.orion.yorku.ca (Joseph St.Lawrence)
mmmmmm... tea.
oh yeah, you can eat the flowers too.

From: mv-martinek.nwu.edu (Marie Martinek)
I have something that was labeled "Fruit Sage" and a "Pineapple Sage" (Salvia sp.). I snip off leaves, dry them, and make sage tea with about 1 part crumbled sage leaves to 3 parts black tea. They're "tender perennials", so here in Chicago area I keep them in pots which I sink into my garden, yank up just before frost (disentangling the groping runners), knock out of the pot and root-prune before cutting most of it down and setting it in a sunny window to survive the winter. It also produces wonderfully-smelling red flowers, which I also dry for tea (if I don't just suck the nectar out and eat it!)

2.3.4 Which sage do you have?

There are a few other plants that are called Sage and that taste very bitter. If your sage is called Artemisia in Latin forget the cooking part. If it is Salvia try a leaf or two and if the taste is OK just go on and use it.
To illustrate:

From: joehanso.badlands.NoDak.edu (Joey L Hanson)
Subject: Re: What's the worse thing you ever ate?

Ever try sage brush tea? Kind of tastes like you're drinking insect repellent would be the closest thing I can relate to it. Damndest thing though it made ya spit blue kind of like a smurf trying to get the taste outta your mouth.