Sage Leaf- ورق الميراميه
Nevadans are probably the most familiar with sage. Their state flower blanketing huge portions of the high desert is actually sagebrush. It is excellent fodder for the wild horses and other animals but has no place on our dinner tables. The sage that we consume is garden sage, botanical name salvia officinalis.
This name is derived from the Latin word meaning health or healing powers. Sage has been used as a medicinal herb far longer than it has been a culinary herb. It was indispensable in the Dark Ages. The ancient Greeks and Romans administered sage for everything from snakebite to promoting longevity. Sage was steeped in hot water, as for tea, before tea became known. Introduced to American palettes in the 1800’s, medicinal usage of sage declined as the culinary use increased.
This greyish-green leafed member of the mint family had actually grown into the most popular herb in American cooking until after World War II, when oregano took over as the number one seasoning. Slightly bitter in flavor and highly aromatic, sage is one of the main ingredients in poultry seasoning. It enhances meats and poultry as well as most vegetables.
Fresh sage is far less bitter than dried sage but in either form, a little goes a long way. It is not particularly palatable fresh so add it sooner in the cooking process rather than near the end as with most fresh herbs. Sage will stand up to long cooking times making it a natural for stewed or braised dishes.
The shrubby sage plant is native to Mediterranean regions although it is now cultivated in a wide range of locales including California, Washington and Oregon. More than 900 varieties of sage exist but the finest quality is said to be Dalmatian sage, imported from the former Yugoslavia’s Dalmatia region, now Croatia.
Garden sage grows well in well-drained, sandy soil with full sun. With its furry leaves, dusky aroma and attractive habit of not growing much more than two feet high, sage serves a good border plant. Tri-color sage is a particularly colorful specimen. Seeds are slow to germinate so you might want to start with a transplant of this perennial. Harvest as needed throughout the summer growing season and then cut back less than a third of the plant in the fall. Major pruning should be done just after it begins to show new growth in the spring.
Sage leaves are grey-ish green in color and oblong in shape. Them stems are woody.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Conserving and Storing
Fresh sage can be kept, stems down, in a glass of water for up to a week as long as the water is changed once a day. Chopped sage leaves, frozen in ice cube trays filled with water will keep for up to three months. Dried sage should be kept in an air tight container in a cool dark place, and should last for up to a year.