The soft, yet sweet savory flavor of sage along with its wonderful health-promoting properties is held in such high esteem that the International Herb Association awarded sage the title of “Herb of the Year” in 2001! Fresh, dried whole or powdered, sage is available throughout the year.
Sage leaves are grayish green in color with a silvery bloom covering. They are lance-shaped and feature prominent veins running throughout. Sage has been held in high regard throughout history both for it culinary and medicinal properties. Its reputation as a panacea is even represented in its scientific name, Salvia officinalis, derived from the Latin word, salvere, which means “to be saved.”
Like rosemary, its sister herb in the mint (Labitae) family, sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids (including apigenin, diosmetin, and luteolin), and phenolic acids, including the phenolic acid named after rosemary—rosmarinic acid.
Sage is native to countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea and has been consumed in these regions for thousands of years. In medicinal lore, sage has one of the longest histories of use of any medicinal herb.
The Greeks and Romans were said to have highly prized the many healing properties of sage. The Romans treated it as sacred and created a special ceremony for gathering sage. Both civilizations used it as a preservative for meat, a tradition that continued until the beginning of refrigeration. What these cultures knew from experience, that sage could help to reduce spoilage, is now being confirmed by science, which has isolated the herb’s numerous terpene antioxidants.
Sage’s legendary status continued throughout history. Arab physicians in the 10th century believed that it promoted immortality, while 14th century Europeans used it to protect themselves from witchcraft. Sage was in so much demand in China during the 17th century, appreciated for the delicious tea beverage that it makes, that the Chinese are said to have traded three cases of tea leaves (camellia sinensis) to the Dutch for one case of sage leaves.
And the esteem with which sage is regarded has not faded. In 2001, the International Herb Association awarded sage the title of “Herb of the Year.”
How to Enjoy:
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Mix cooked navy beans with olive oil, sage and garlic and serve on bruschetta.
- Use sage as a seasoning for tomato sauce.
- Add fresh sage to omelets and frittatas.
- Sprinkle some sage on top of your next slice of pizza.
- Combine sage leaves, bell peppers, cucumbers and sweet onions with plain yogurt for an easy to prepare, refreshing salad.
- When baking chicken or fish in parchment paper, place some fresh sage leaves inside so that the food will absorb the flavors of this wonderful herb.
Reference: WHFoods (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=76)