The soft, yet sweet savory flavor of sage along with its wonderful health-promoting properties is held in such high esteem that the International Herb Association awarded sage the title of “Herb of the Year” in 2001! Fresh, dried whole or powdered, sage is available throughout the year
What to look for:
Sage leaves are grayish green in color with a silvery bloom covering. They are lance-shaped and feature prominent veins running throughout. Sage has been held in high regard throughout history both for it culinary and medicinal properties. Its reputation as a panacea is even represented in its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derived from the Latin word, salvere, which means “to be saved”.
How Mother Nature loves it:
Sage should be grown in well-drained, rich soil, in full sun and with shelter from cold winds. Cuttings should be taken in spring and summer, or by layering (mounding for older bushes). Nip off points of shoots to induce bushy growth, and renew every 4-5 years as shrubs become leggy. A native of the Mediterranean, sage reaches a mature height of about two feet, and likes to spread out. It is a hardy perennial that needs well-drained, alkaline soil and a sunny location. Sage can get woody as it gets older, so plan on replacing your plant every few years, as it will start to look leggy, droopy, and unattractive by the third year. Because sage also likes some room to grow, plant it at least two feet from other herbs and plants.
Sage leaves are naturally raised in an attractive pebbly pattern with a gray cast that makes them interesting visually. In summer, spikes of attractive lavender flowers complement this gray-green coloration.
How to use it:
Sage (Salvia officinalis), also known as garden meadow, has a long tradition of culinary and medicinal use. Sage was once used to help preserve meat and over the past 2,000 years or so has been recommended by herbalists to treat just about every known condition, from snakebite to mental illness. In fact, in medieval times the French called the herb toute bonne, which means, “all is well”. Modern research has shown that sage, while not a panacea, can help reduce excessive perspiration, digestive problems, sore throats, premenstrual cramps, and high blood sugar.
Sage has a long history of use as a treatment for gastrointestinal disorders. It has been shown to help relax muscle spasms in the digestive tract, and is approved by Commission E for treatment of indigestion. One German study has found that drinking a sage infusion reduced blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, but only when they took the infusion on an empty stomach.
An ancient herb, Sage is popular as a potent condiment for meat, fish, Mediterranean dishes, English Sage Derby Cheese, and as a basis for sage tea, taken to counteract sweating. Infusion of Sage can used to treat depression, nervous anxiety and liver disorders; homeopathic preparations can be given for circulation and menopausal problems. The leaves are also antiseptic, used in gargles for laryngitis and tonsillitis, and as a mouth freshener and tooth cleanser. It also provides an essential oil which can be used in perfumery.