I believe sage is an herb that is under utilized in the kitchen. Often we see if once a year, in the Thanksgiving stuffing or perhaps we see it again during a holiday feast in December but many do not regularly use this herb in our kitchens. Sage has a strong, spicy flavor which can be bitter that some people do not enjoy. The flavor varies depending on the variety so experimentation might help you find a variety of sage you truly enjoy. Fresh sage has a wonder lemon zest flavor that you lose in the dried version. With your taste buds changing about every 7 years, it might be time to give sage another try.
Sage is an ancient herb that originated in the Mediterranean region. It has long been grown for its medicinal purposes before it was used as a culinary herb. In ancient Rome, it was especially used to aid in digestion of the fatty meat diet that was mainstay. The French grew sage for teas and the Chinese, so enamored with the French sage teas, traded four pounds of Chinese tea to one pound of the French tea.
Because sage is used to aid digestion of fatty meats, you often see it paired with sausage and goose. Infusions can be used to treat depression and nervous anxiety. They can also be used to help aid circulation and with menopausal problems. Since it is antiseptic, it can be used to gargle to help aid laryngitis and tonsillitis.
Dried sage comes in whole leaf, rubbed or ground. If you have dried sage in your cabinet that is 6 months old, you should throw it out. Sage, as will all dried herbs, lose their flavor as they age so you are doing little more than adding color to your dish when you use dated dried herbs. Fresh sage can be kept in the refrigerator for several days to a week. Once brown spots or dry edges appear on the leaves, you need to discard it.
Washed and dried fresh sage can be frozen and will keep for one year in the freezer. Add, loosely packed to resealable freezer bags or you can add to olive oil and keep refrigerated for up to 2 month.
Sage is a hardy herb and should be used in the beginning of cooking to develop its full flavor. Besides fatty meats, it also compliments cheese, chicken, eggplant, gnocchi, potatoes and tomatoes. Other herbs that compliment sage are garlic, onions, oregano, thyme and rosemary.
Try adding sage to your next grilled cheese or a vegetable dish. You can add sage leaves and stems to the grill to infuse your grilled meat dishes. But remember sage can easily overpower a dish, so use sparingly.