Main Name: Sage
Biological Name: Salvia officinalis
Hindi Name: Salvia, Sefakuss
Names in other Indian languages: Salvi tulasi (Malayalam), Dharba (Telugu), Bui tulasi (Bengali), Kammarkas (Marathi), Sathi (Punjabi)
Widely known in culinary circles for its savory and pungent aroma, sage is indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Since it is very rare in India, surely, most of you wouldn’t know a herb called sage ever existed. Though you may not be using the herb in your daily cooking, you are still using it every day. Does that ring a bell in your head? If you are a devoted user of deodorants, then consumption of sage comes naturally to you. For, sage is an important ingredient used in most deodorants. Botanically known as Salvia officinalis, sage belongs to the mint family, which also includes basil, rosemary, oregano, thyme and others. It is known by several common names – common sage, garden sage, kitchen sage, true sage, culinary sage, Dalmatian sage, and broadleaf sage, a few to name. An evergreen perennial subshrub spread across the Mediterranean and south-eastern European regions, sage is a plant producing woody stems and grayish leaves that leave a lasting impression. The exquisite aroma and strong woody flavor makes sage a part of many cuisines across the world. Whether you use sage to stuff chicken and turkey, sprinkle over potato dishes and vegetable soups, or pair it up with cheese; sage brings out that required spark and enhances the overall taste of any dish. To add more to your excitement of learning about sage, we present some wholesome benefits of consuming this herb. Read on.
Sage is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and has been in use since ancient times as a medicinal herb. It was highly honored by the Greeks and Romans who used it as a meat preservative and for its healing properties. In the 10th century, the Arabs and Romans attributed sage for its ability of imparting immortality. When introduced to the Europeans from Egypt in the 14th century, they used the herb to protect themselves from witchcraft. The popularity of sage increased and reached other parts of the world, where people regarded the herb with utmost respect. Today it is used as an effective treatment for numerous diseases and ailments. The International Herb Association awarded sage with the title ‘Herb of the Year’ in 2001. It is extensively used in Greek, Italian, and European cuisines. Currently, it is cultivated in Yugoslavia, Italy, Albania, Turkey, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, England, Canada, and the United States. In India, it is sparingly grown in Jammu.
Health Benefits of Sage
An outstanding memory enhancer, sage promotes better brain functioning and is an effective remedy for cerebrovascular disease. Besides, it makes a good treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, sage effectively cures inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Furthermore, inflammation on the skin, ingestion caused due to spicy foods, inflammation occurring due to high fever, and detoxification of the blood in case of poisonous material in the bloodstream are successfully treated with sage.
People with inflammatory conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, and atherosclerosis are recommended to increase their intake of sage as a seasoning in food.With anti-bacterial properties, sage is used for alleviating bacterial infections occurring in the intestines, urethra, genitals, eyes, throat, nose and ears.
Sage is an excellent source of antioxidants that clear up the metabolism and other environmental toxins like smoke and pesticides, from the body. Additionally, these antioxidants protect free radicals from damaging the cell tissues, prevent early aging, and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.Studies have revealed the usage of sage associated with modulating mood and providing effective means of handling stress. It boosts the overall mood and enhances alertness, calmness, and contentedness.Symptoms of menopause, like hot flushes, insomnia, nocturnal sweating, dizziness, headaches, palpitations and other signs of an estrogen deficiency are effectively relieved with sage tea in menopausal women.Fungal infections, like dermatitis, athlete’s foot, and other skin diseases and ailments are cured with sage due to the presence of Camphor and Camphene that contain anti-fungal properties.Sage is an excellent digestive aid and appetite stimulant.
It helps in reducing gas in the intestines and relieving abdominal cramps and bloating.Oral and dental problems, such as mouth ulcers, infected and bleeding gums, dental abscesses and throat infections are also effectively healed with sage consumption.
Sage, when taken in tea, works as an expectorant for producing sweat and flushing out toxins, thereby relieving bronchitis, cold and flu symptoms.It is used by nursing mothers to stop the production of breast milk when weaning a child from breastfeeding and starting to introduce other food articles.Sage is highly recommended for reducing dizziness and nervousness, and strengthening the nervous system that has been incapacitated.Some other health advantages associated with sage include curing typhoid fever, laryngitis, tonsillitis, sore throat, liver complaints, kidney troubles, hemorrhage from the lungs or stomach, colds in the head, menstrual bleeding, measles, pains in the joints, lethargy and palsy.
How to Buy Sage
Sage can be purchased fresh, dried` or ground from the supermarkets all round the year.Whenever possible, buy fresh bunches of sage as it will give you a superior and more aromatic flavor.Look for fresh sage bunches with vibrant green-gray leaves and fresh aromatic smell.Avoid purchasing sage leaves that have blemishes, yellow spots, mold, or wilt.When buying dried or ground sage, look for authentic and known branded packets only, to obtain the best quality.
Sage Storage Tips
Wrap fresh sage leaves in paper towels and place them in a loosely closed plastic bag. Refrigerate and use within four to five days.Fresh sage leaves can also be covered in olive oil and stored in the refrigerator. This way, the leaves will keep fresh for about three weeks.You can freeze sage leaves to increase their shelf live and retain their freshness. Wash, pat dry the sage leaves, separate the leaves from the stems, pack loosely in a freezer bag. Place in the freezer for up to one year.Store dried sage in an airtight glass container in a cool, dark, dry place where it will last for about six months.
How to Cook With Sage
Sage, salvia officinalis, is a common cooking herb. Dried sage is the form most modern cooks use, but fresh sage can lend a lemony, lighter note to recipes. While fresh sage is seldom found in the supermarket, it is easy to grow in the garden. Sage is most often used with poultry and pork but can also flavor cheese and wine. Here are some ways to cook with sage.
1Grow the sage. You can purchase either seeds or young plants at a garden center. Sage can be planted in a garden or potted.
2Harvest the sage. When the plants have matured, cut young, tender stems with small leaves from the sage plant with a pair of garden scissors.
3Clean the sage. Rinse the sage stems under cool, clean running water. Pat dry with a paper towel.
4Separate the leaves from the stem. Use your fingers to remove the sage leaves from the stem.
5Add the sage to your dish. Use the whole leaves or chop them into smaller pieces, depending on the recipe’s instructions.
6Store excess sage. If you cut more sage than you can use, store whole sprigs in a glass of water in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Method 2 of 3: Using Dried Sage
1Purchase dried sage. It is available in the spice aisle of your local grocery store. Check the expiration date before you purchase it.
2Dry your own sage. If you don’t want to buy dried sage or if you have excess fresh sage, try drying it yourself.
- Cut young, non-woody stems off a sage plant with garden shears.
- Cut in the morning after the dew has dried.
- Band several stems of sage with rubber bands.
- Hang bundles in a dry, warm place to dry.
- Carefully remove dried sage leaves when they are crispy.
- Crumble the leaves to fine pieces.
3Store excess. Store dried sage in a cool, dark place in a tightly closed container.
4Add sage to your recipe. Measure dried sage carefully and use the amount called for in a recipe, as sage is a strong herb.
Method 3 of 3: Using Sage in Recipes
1Make bouquet garni. To do so, combine 1 tablespoon of chopped leaves from these herbs, sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and marjoram. Use in a spice ball or tie in cheesecloth to season soups, sauces and stews.
2Make sage stuffing. Combine 1 teaspoon of dried sage, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper with 1/2 cup of melted butter or margarine. Toss seasonings with 6 cups dried bread cubes, 1/2 cup of chopped onion and 1/2 cup finely chopped celery in a large bowl. Use to stuff chicken or turkey before roasting.
3Make sage sausage. Add 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage to each 2 pounds of your favorite sausage recipe.
4Make orange sage marinade. To do so, blend 1/4 cup unsweetened orange juice, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 cup Dijon mustard in a large bowl. Then, marinade up to 3 pounds of boneless chicken or pork pieces in the mix for 1-3 hours (in the refrigerator) before grilling or broiling them.
5Season baked chicken. Lightly coat a whole chicken or chicken pieces with oil or melted butter. Then, sprinkle on chopped fresh sage, rosemary, and marjoram with salt and pepper to suit your taste before baking the chicken.
6Make sage dip. Combine 1- 8 oz. package of cream cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves, and 2 tablespoons fresh chopped celery leaves in a food processor and blend until smooth. Then, place in a bowl and refrigerate 5-8 hours to blend flavors. Serve at room temperature.
- Even dried herbs can go bad. A good way to keep track of how old your herbs are is to write the date you opened them on the jar. Most herbs and spices keep well for about 1 to 2 years. After that, they begin to lose their flavor.
- Sage is often used with fatty meats because it aids digestion.
- Pay attention to whether your recipe calls for dried or fresh sage. The general rule is that 1 teaspoon of a dried herb equals 1 tablespoon of the fresh herb.
- Sage tea can be used as a gargle for sore throats.
- Sage tea is used as a rinse to condition and darken gray hair.
- There are several ornamental varieties of sage. For cooking buy what is called white sage or Dalmatian sage. It may also be labeled culinary sage.
- Sage is quite ornamental in the garden with silvery leaves and blue flowers that bees love. It is a short-lived perennial.
- Pregnant women, nursing mothers and epileptics should avoid sage teas or strong concoctions using sage (although sage seasoning used in cooking is safe).