Sage is a common culinary herb with a long history and deep roots in the kitchen.
It’s one of those herbs that most people have no trouble identifying, but few know much about.
In this article we’ll talk about how to grow sage, why it’s so popular in the kitchen, what makes it special, and where it comes from.
How to dry sage leaves?
Drying sage leaves helps preserve their unique flavor profile.
If you’re interested in growing your own herbs, drying them is a great way to save money on your grocery bill without sacrificing quality.
To dry sage, you’ll need to cut small bits off the stems and remove any wilted flowers.
You should also remove any damaged leaves and stems.
Some sage varieties have thin stems that easily break if they’re not handled carefully.
Once your sage starts looking more like a bunch of tiny green twigs than a large pile of leaves, you’re ready to move onto the next step.
The key here is to get the leaves as dry as possible before storing them away in airtight containers.
You won’t want to be tempted to open up a bag of dried sage just yet.
Once the leaves are dry enough to crumble between your fingers, you’re almost there.
What is the best way to store dried sage leaves?
The best place to store dried sage leaves is in an area with good air flow and little humidity.
This may sound like a contradiction, but it’s important to keep the leaves dry while at the same time letting them breathe.
If you put them into a tightly sealed jar, they’ll start to lose moisture and become less flavorful.
A paper bag with holes punched in it works well too.
If you don’t plan to use the leaves within six months, you might consider freezing them instead.
Just make sure to label the container clearly so you know which type of sage you’re saving.
How long do dried sage leaves last?
Fresh sage lasts longer than dried sage, but it still loses its potency over time.
Dried sage will stay fresh for at least a year once opened, depending on how dry the leaves were when you first stored them.
Fresh sage has a shelf life of two to three weeks, though, so it’s probably better to purchase fresh herbs whenever possible.
What are some uses for dried sage leaves?
There are plenty of ways to incorporate dried sage leaves into your cooking.
Try using them as a seasoning for meats and fish, as a garnish for soups and stews, or even as a finishing touch for sauces.
Some chefs swear by dried sage leaves when preparing duck confit because they impart a subtle sweetness to the dish.
Others prefer to use fresh sage leaves, which are easier to find in specialty markets.
What does sage taste like?
Sage is known for its earthy, woodsy aroma and bitter flavor.
Its distinctive taste is a combination of pine, mint, lavender, and peppermint.
When it’s cooked, the flavors mellow out and turn sweet.
Where does sage come from?
Like many culinary herbs, sage originated in Europe.
Legend has it that French monks discovered sage during the Middle Ages, when they came across the plant growing wild near monasteries.
The name “sage” derives from the Latin word saepes, meaning “the forest.”
Today, sage is grown all over the world, including North America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Japan.
In the United States, sage is primarily cultivated in California, Oregon, Washington, Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Texas.
What is sage used for?
Sage is a versatile culinary herb that goes beyond being a simple seasoning.
Here are just a few of the things you can do with it:
- Add it to salads and dressings
- Use it as a topping for pizza
- Add a pinch to your scrambled eggs
- Make a pesto sauce with it
- Pour it over roasted vegetables
- Garnish your roast chicken
- Make a salad dressing with it
- Try adding it to your Thanksgiving stuffing
- Sprinkle it on top of baked potatoes
Is sage an herb or a spice?
Sage is both!
Technically, it’s considered a member of the mint family, but it belongs to the Lamiaceae (or Labiatae) family.
That means it’s closely related to chives, oregano, and rosemary.
When cooking with sage, you’ll often see it referred to as a herb.
But because it’s a member of the mint family, it’s technically an aromatic vegetable rather than an herb.
How do you use sage in cooking?
Sage is most commonly associated with poultry dishes, such as turkey, chicken, and duck.
It adds a rich depth of flavor and fragrance to these foods, making them extra delicious.
But it doesn’t stop with poultry.
You can use sage in savory breads, meatballs, pastas, and other dishes.
It’s also a fantastic addition to seafood, especially shellfish like shrimp, lobster, and crab.
And if you’re planning a meal featuring pork chops, try serving them with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of freshly chopped sage leaves.
What are some sage leaf substitutes?
Sage is just one of several types of culinary herbs that go by the name “sage.”
There are others, including lemon thyme, orange thyme, and Spanish/Italian basil.
Each one adds a different flavor to food.
Lemon thyme is slightly citrusy, orange thyme has a slight hint of berry, and Spanish/Italian basil tastes like spearmint.
You can substitute any of these herbs for sage, but they aren’t quite as versatile.
For example, lemon thyme is great for roasting vegetables, but it lacks the complexity and flavor of sage.
For recipes that call for sage, the easiest thing to do is to use fresh sage.
However, if you’re short on time, you can always buy dried sage leaves online or in specialty stores.
They’re easy to find and cost very little compared to fresh sage, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding them.