The botanical name of Sage, salvia, shows its Latin root with Salvare, which means to save. This is reflected in sage’s popularity for centuries as having healing powers. The ancients associated sage with immortality and longevity. In fact, sage was even believed to increase mental capacity.
European Sage was successfully traded by the Dutch for three times the amount of Chinese tea because the Chinese prized sage for tea.
American Indians used sage as a medicine, mixing it with bear grease for a salve to treat skin sores. They also used it as an infusion for rubdowns and baths.
Sage is considered today to be a top remedy in hot infusion for colds.
Sage leaf tea mixed with a bit of cider vinegar is a good gargle for treating sore throats, tonsillitis and laryngitis. It is also considered useful as a mouthwash to treat mouth ulcers or infected gums.
Sage has even been used as an insect repellant against flies, and, when planted in the garden draws bees and repels cabbage moths and carrot flies.
Sage’s coloring properties make it popular as a rinse and conditioner for dark hair. It can also stimulate the skin when used in lotions and baths.
Sage has been touted for its ability to stop perspiration, making it helpful in treating hot flashes of menopause. Taken as an infusion, sweetened with honey, it is also said to stimulate menstrual flow.
Plant Type: Half Hardy Annual.
The familiar Garden Sage (salvia officinalis) is a hardy small, woody- stemmed shrub that can grow two feet tall. It has long, coarsely textured, oval shaped leaves. It's velvet-blue flowers appear on tall spikes. There are several other closely related sages that are available to herb gardeners: Purple Sage, White Sage and Russian Sage are a few examples.
USDA Growing Zones: USDA Zone 5 - 9, depending on species.
Sage prefers slightly loamy, good to poor, well-drained, semi-dry soil.
Sage should be started from seed or cuttings, but it propagates best from quality seed as seeds are short-lived. Start six to eight weeks before moving outdoors.
Sage Seedlings are very susceptible to damping-off fungus. Start sage in vermiculite filled plastic tray or pots, placed in a tray with water. This will allow the seedlings to draw water from below, protecting the tender stems.
Plant Sage seedlings in full sun; 12 inches apart, in 18 inch rows, pinching off buds when it is necessary to promote bushiness.
Primarily whiteflies, also mites and aphids.
Sage leaves should be harvested anytime before the plant is in full bloom, in the morning after the herb plants are dry and free of morning dew.
Rinse the sage plants after harvest, in fresh, cold water to remove dirt, insects or any other foreign matter.
Dry the leaves for a day in a food dehydrator. Use warm, dry air, no warmer than 105 degrees F.
If no dehydrator is available, the herb plants can be bunched and hung upside down for about a week, out of direct, sunlight in a warm dry location.
SAGE SHOULD NOT BE DRIED IN A MICROWAVE OR CONVENTIONAL OVEN!
The lemony, camphor like taste and scent of Garden Sage make it useful in cooking with a wide variety of meats, vegetables and in sausages, omelets, yeast brads and marinades.
Sage is widely used as a favorite American spice in the stuffing served with turkey at Thanksgiving.
This is the Sage Stuffing Recipe which I make for our family Thanksgiving Dinner each year; there is never any leftover!
Dry bread by cutting 1/2-inch slices, laying them in a single layer on baking sheets or cooling racks, and leaving them out overnight. The next day, cut the slices into 1/2-inch cubes and allow them to dry for another night.
The stuffing can be cooked inside the holiday bird if you prefer; just reduce stock to 1 cup. Stuff a 12- to 15-pound turkey with 6 cups of stuffing. Then add an additional 1/2 cup of chicken stock to the remaining stuffing and bake it separately in an 8-inch pan.
Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until fully melted; pour off 2 tablespoons butter and reserve. Return skillet to heat; add onion and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in sage, thyme, marjoram, parsley, and black pepper and cook until just fragrant, about 1 minute longer.
Pour onion mixture into large mixing bowl. Add bread cubes, stock, eggs, and salt and toss gently to distribute dry and wet ingredients. Pour mixture into buttered 13-x 9-inch baking dish, drizzle with reserved melted butter, cover tightly with foil, and bake until fragrant, about 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake until golden brown crust forms on top, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Serve warm.