There is a lot of different kinds of sage and a lot of different uses.
We have several varieties of garden sage that is used in cooking but sometimes it is used medicinally. I have also used it to bundle and burn in a smudge. Not often, because it cuts into my cooking sage. I would have to grow a heck of a lot more of it.
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Garden sage varieties
Common sage or Garden sage (Salvia officinalis) is not native to America. It is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean region but has been naturalized to other countries, including North America.
The most noted and used varieties are Garden sage, Russian sage, Golden sage, tri-colored sage and Pineapple sage. However, some of those are more ornamental than flavorful or medicinal. I have grown all 4 of those varieties but it has been the basic garden sage that I have mostly used in the kitchen.
Cooking with Sage
Sage has a distinct, rather earthy taste and has been notably used in the preparation of sausage for a very long time. However, it goes well with about any meat and especially well with poultry.
But don’t stop there. Stuffing would not be stuffing without sage. It also goes very well with many homemade soups and stews. Plus, tomato dishes, bean dishes, pesto, and omelets.
It pairs well with several other herbs such as rosemary, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, oregano, and parsley. Least we not forget.. it harmonizes super great with most dishes that call for garlic and/or onions.
If you are new to cooking with sage — start with just a little. And here are a couple of tips.
#1. Cooking softens the flavor – thus – if you prefer a more mild sage flavor – add at beginning of the process.
#2. If your like me and love the taste of sage then add it at closer to the end of the cooking process.
You can get it in either fresh or dried and rubbed or whole leaf. There is no best one as it comes down to your personal preference. Some people want fresh, whole leaf but it is often hard to fine. More often, you will find the dried and rubbed – or dried – leaf.
Don’t buy old sage because the flavor and medicinal properties have diminished greatly. You can tell by the color. Old sage looses the silvery green color and tends to turn a brownish yellow with time. If you keep it to long it will do the same. Time to toss it and replenish with a new batch.
NOTE: Do not use sage essential oils in cooking. YAK.. that’s just nasty.
Nothing beats growing your own sage. Thankfully it is a hardy perennial and very easy to grow. You can grow it outdoors or in. It’s basic needs are plenty of sunshine and good drainage.
It can do very well in a variety of climates. I have read zones 5 to 9 but I have been growing sage in our zone 3-4 for many years. It comes back nearly every year no matter how cold our winter has been. Of course.. a little mulch protection is helpful.
Add it to your garden or grow some on a sunny window sill. If you have a sunny spot on your patio, porch or deck you can grow it in a container. Better yet, grow it along with a few other herbs in a stack able garden.
Tip: Sage seeds can be a little temperamental. It goes much better if we start with a small plant that can be purchased at most any garden nursery, greenhouse or even online.
The 4 most common Wild Sage Species Big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Fringed Sage (Artemisia frigida), White Sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana), and Silver Sagebrush (Artemisia cana).
You can check out this Montana Field Guide:
Several varieties of sagebrush have been used as herbal medicine by Native Americans throughout history. Besides smudging, it has been used for preventing wound infections, treating colds and headaches and to stop bleeding. (just to name a few.) This is due to the chemical, active medicinal constituents that include camphor, tannins and terpenoids.
Generally speaking it has been Big sagebrush (and subspecies thereof) that have been used. I would venture to say this was due to it being most abundant.
Today — and for quite some time — the white sage has taken center stage as the most popular for smudging. I think this is mostly because it can be easily purchased. There are to many laws against taking parts of plants that are on government land. Thus, folks are very hesitant to cultivate wild sage unless they have some growing on private property or know someone who does.
I see that you can purchase sagebrush seeds on ebay, Amazon and a few websites. But it would not be hard to go shake some seeds from wild sagebrush if you do it the right time of year.
I could not find anyone selling any wild sagebrush plants but I did find an article on how to transplant one. They did not elaborate on where to get the starter from. I would guess you would have to fine someone who has it growing on their private land and ask to dig some.
Actually thou — I doubt there are many that want to grow wild sagebrush in their yard. It does have a habit of spreading. However it would be virtually maintenance free.
Personally I can envision a yard full of sagebrush and wildflowers. My husband laughed and laughed.
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