Salvia officinalis - Sage
Its Latin name is Salvare, "to be saved." The Romans cherished the herb known to them has herba sacra, used to cure snakebites, depression and sterility and to promote long life. Sage has always held a magical aura most likely stemming from its unique healing and curative properties that were not fully understood long ago. The story of the Four Thieves Vinegar tells of the virulent plague that swept through Toulouse. Four thieves roamed freely among the sick pilfering what they wanted without fear of becoming infected. When finally captured they were sentenced to death. They were offered their lives for the secret formula that spared them the evils of the plague. A solution of thyme, lavender, rosemary, and - most importantly sage, that had been infused in vinegar had been rubbed over their bodies before entering the homes of the ill.

Sage is among the best herbal choices for killing bacteria, but it is also amazing for culinary uses. Italian cooks have used it for centuries to add a flavorful and healthful kick to vegetable and meat dishes. Americans all know sage from our traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinners. What would the holiday be like without the pungent scent of sage stuffing wafting through the air making our mouths water for the feast to come?

Get to know Sage and grow this wonderful perennial herb in your garden. Not only is it very useful in many ways, but it is a beautifully decorative addition to your landscape and grows in many variations of color and scent. To your health!

PROPAGATION:

Sage may be grown from seed but more easily from cuttings. Pinch a sturdy stem from a plant in mid-spring and push into moist soil in a shady spot of your garden. Keep soil moderately moist until roots develop.

GROWING:

Sages grow best in full sun in well-drained soil. They appreciate cooler weather and infrequent watering. Mulch well and prune hard in the spring to remove any dead wood and prolong the growth of new leaves.

VARIETIES:

There hundreds of varieties of Salvia, the most common being Salvia officinalis.

Common Sage (Salvia officinalis) has pointed grey-green velvety leaves with deep veining and a pungent aroma. Can grow to a height of 2 feet or more. Flowers in summer may be pink, purple or white. Varieties include Pineapple, Blue, Grape-scented, Tricolor, Golden Leaf and many more. An abundant source of these plants is Richter's Herbs.

HARVESTING AND USES:

Leaves may be used fresh or dried. Mature leaves have the most essential oil content and are best for drying. Gather foliage when dry and bunch loosely together.  Hang in a cool dark location with good air circulation until dry. This will take about a week. Store dried leaves in an air tight container out of bright light.

RECIPES:

Lemon Chicken with Sage

Chicken breasts, legs, or thighs, skin on

3 sage leaves per piece of chicken

4 large garlic cloves per pound of chicken, slivered

Coarse salt

Black pepper, preferably freshly ground

1 whole lemon per pound of chicken, quartered


Wash and pat dry chicken parts. Rub outside of each piece with sage, then tuck the leaves under the skin. Layer in large dish chicken parts, garlic, a generous sprinkling of salt, pepper, and lemon quarters, squeezing juice out first over the layer. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, turning occasionally. When ready to cook, allow to come to room, temperature. Bake, grill, or saute chicken and lemon quarters. Serve hot or at room temperature.

(From The Gardeners' Community Cookbook, by Victoria Wise)


Sage Jelly

Ingredients

2.2kg/5lb Cooking Apples – cut into thick chunks (unpeeled/un-cored)
1.1L/40fl.oz. Water
8 tbsp Freshly chopped Sage
8 Whole Sage Leaves
1.1L/40fl.oz. Distilled Malt Vinegar
Sugar (see instructions)
A few drops of Green food Coloring optional

Instructions

1. Place the apples in a large saucepan together with the water and the sage leaves. Bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 45 minutes, until the fruit is soft, stirring from time to time to prevent sticking.

2. Add the vinegar to the pan and boil for a further 5 minutes.

3. Spoon the apple mixture into a jelly bag or cloth attached to the legs of an upturned stool, and leave to strain into a large bowl for at least 12 hours. Do not squeeze.

4. Prepare the jars (see notes below)

5. Discard the pulp remaining in the jelly bag. Measure the liquid in the bowl and return it to a saucepan together with 450g/1 lb of sugar for each 600ml/20 fl.oz. of liquid.

6. Heat gently, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then raise the heat boil rapidly for about 10 minutes.

7. Remove from the heat and test for a set (see notes below) .

8. Skim the surface with a slotted spoon then stir in the chopped sage and add a few drops of green food coloring. Allow to cool slightly then stir well to distribute the mint.

9. Ladle into warm jars, cover, seal and label (see notes below).
Serve with pork, poultry or crackers and cream cheese.

Previous Herb of the Month:

Rosemary

Thyme

Basil

Mint

Parsley

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