HerbDoc has some musings on one of our favorite herbs, and one we use often during the holidays:
Thanksgiving is a few short days away, and one of the herbs that no cook can be without is sage. Sage has a long history as an herbal medicine and as a culinary ingredient.
It was once said that sage cured tuberculosis and effectively treated snakebite, and many still see its value in reducing headaches and sore throats and as a digestive aid. Its very name, “Salvia,” means health or salvation.
Sage is a very hardy perennial which is still a pebbly gray-green in my garden, and it will probably stay that way for the remainder of the winter. Since it becomes very woody and tough with age, its woody growth should be cut back in March. I also try to replace my plants with new starts or cuttings every three to four years to prevent the toughness that comes with old age. The best time to harvest sage is no later than September, and the most useful leaves come from the tops of the plants.
This herb is used extensively in stuffing and sausage, and the best one to grow for this purpose is Salvia officinalis which has a hint of lemon. Other sages may be too strong and overpowering, and my beloved Pineapple Sage actually loses its scent/taste when dried. Be aware that if you’re a purist, the small boxes of turkey seasoning and bottles of dried sage on the grocer’s shelves probably contain several varieties of sage. If using these it might be a good idea to add a healthy dose of dried parsley to the mix as it is said to cut the overpowering taste of mixed sages.
Sage also has a long history in the practices and folklore of the ancients. In the past, sage leaves were strewn on graves as a sign of remembrance, and it was also said that if a young girl picked twelve leaves of sage at midnight on Christmas Eve and put them under her pillow that she would see the face of her future husband in her dreams.
We at Digging RI would like to wish all our readers and friends a very happy Thanksgiving. We are so thankful for your input and support!