To the ancients, including the Arabians, sage was associated with immortality, or at least longevity, and it was credited with increasing mental capacity.
Sage [ Salvia officinalis ] is a hardy, perennial shrub-like herb with woody stems. The leaves have a “pebbly” texture, with veins that appear puckered. Sage leaves are grayish green in color, branching out in short stems from the base of the plant.
Flowering time is June for most cultivars. Sage can grow to a height of 30 inches, and requires full sun. The soil should be slightly alkaline, and kept on the dry side as established plants require little moisture. Rainfall is more than adequate even in the hottest summers.
Common garden sage has a pronounced lemony, camphor-like fragrance. Fresh sage leaves have a milder flavor than the dried leaves, so you’ll need twice as much of the fresh when cooking with sage.
Harvesting and Storage: To dry whole sage leaves, snip them from the branches, discarding the stems. Leaves removed from the bottom half of the plants have the best flavor. Spread the leaves single file on parchment paper and allow them to air dry on kitchen counters. Once dry, store them in airtight glass containers. Mason jars are ideal.
Some sage species and varieties:
Blue sage – Salvia clevelandii – blue flowers. Use in potpourri, cosmetics, bath.
Pineapple sage – S. elegans – red flowers. Use for cooking, herbal teas, and jams and jellies.
Purple sage – S. officinalis purpurea – purple flowers. Use for stuffing, sausage, omelets, soups and stews.
Good to know… a saying from a tenth century medical school in Salerno, Italy: “Why should a man die, when he can go to his garden for sage?”
Blessed be sweet ones.