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Sage is a herb used in cooking. Its biological name is Salvia officinalis. The word sage is derived from the latin term “salvere” which means "to save" relating the healing properties associated with the Salvia species. This herb grows as a perennial evergreen subshrub containing woody stems, bluish purple flowers and grey shaded leaves. The leaves of this herb are oblong, greyish green in color on the top and almost white at the back side because of the presence of soft hairs at the back. The colors in which sage grows include rose, cream, yellow and purple. Popular sage recipes include Sage and Onion Stuffing, Chicken Livers with Sage, Roast Goose With Sage And Onion Stuffing, Onion-Sage Fish Sauce and Chicken Liver And Sage Onion Fusilli.

History of Sage

Sage has been in vogue since ancient times due to the religious/cultural sentiments associated with it. It was used to ward off evil, increase women's fertility, to cure snake-bites, etc. It is believed to have been introduced as a medicinal herb to Europe from Egypt by the Romans. There are written accounts by the ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus about two different sages, a wild under-shrub to which he referred as sphakos and a similar cultivated plant to which he referred as elelisphakos. Philosophers including Dioscorides, Pliny and Galen all held sage as a diuretic, haemostatic, emmenagogue and tonic.

Sage in Cooking

Sage can be used in fresh, dry or preserved forms
The fresh herb can be soaked in olive oil and stored in a refrigerator, inside a bottle. It can be used in cooking for almost 2 months. The leaves may be drawn out of the oil and used in sage recipes. The oil which is flavored with sage can also be used for cooking purposes such as sautéing or for salad dressings.This can be preserved by drying. Dried sage leaves contain milder flavor than the fresh ones. The leaves can be dried in shade or using a dehydrator and kept in an airtight container in a cool dark place. The dried leaves need to be crushed between palms before using for cooking.

Sage in Cuisines

Sage possesses a sort of peppery flavor. In Western cuisines, it is made use of for seasoning fatty meats, Derby cheese, poultry or pork stuffing, Lincolnshire sausage and in sauces. Sage recipes are also popular in Italian cuisine, in Balkans and the Middle East.
The common variety of this herb is grown in parts of Europe for extracting oil. Other species, such as Salvia fruticosa are also harvested and distilled with it.

Methods of Cooking Sage

Sage is often used as a seasoning ingredient with fatty meats such as pork for the reason that it aids in digestion. It is also preferred for use in stuffed food, beans, risotto, potatoes, cheese and tomato sauces. Other flavors that compliment this ingredient include onion, garlic, thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaf and rosemary.

It is always better to mix this ingredient during early phases of cooking as it ensures a toned flavor. It can be incorporated in sage recipes in final stages as well for obtaining a wholesome flavor.

Popular Sage Recipes
• Sage And Onion Stuffing is combination of sage and herb stuffing mix for spicing up chopped mushrooms.
• Chicken Livers with Sage can be had as a side or a main dish.
• Roast Goose With Sage And Onion Stuffing is complimented by wine, onions and garlic.
• Onion-Sage Fish Sauce is a quick recipe to make fish sauce.
• Grilled Red Onion Salad with Parmesan Cheese and Sage among sage recipes is combining cheese and sage.

Nutritive Value of Sage

• Rosmarinic acid in sage can be easily absorbed from the intestinal tract containing anti-inflammatory properties. It also acts as a good anti-oxidant. The leaves and stems of this herb also possess antioxidant enzymes, such as SOD (superoxide dismutase) and peroxidase.

• It is recommended in high intakes through sage recipes as a seasoning for persons with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma and atherosclerosis.

• Herbs have been recommended as curing medicines often for virtually every ailment. Of late evidences of herbs reveal their possible uses as an anhydrotic, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycaemic and tonic. In a research trial, this ingredient was found to be effective in the treatment of mild to moderate levels of Alzheimer's disease.

Sage Buying Tips
Sage can be bought from local vegetable markets, food stores or super markets either fresh or dry.

When buying fresh sage one must look for the ones having tender leaves and tender-to-hard stems. Highly wet or sagged leaves must be avoided. Once bought, it must be patted well to throw off excess moisture. It can be transported home for sage recipes after wrapping in paper.

Dried sage leaves are also available in supermarkets or food stores. They are available in sealed packs or containers. Tampered containers or the ones with broken seals must be avoided. The instructions on the package must be read and expiry date if any must be made note of. Dry sage can last up to a year in sealed containers.

This herb can also be ordered and purchased online.

Non-Food Uses of Sage

• The herb has been used as a tooth cleaning abrasive and for allaying headaches in combination with other herbs besides for sage recipes. It can be crushed into a paste to be applied on minor cuts to stop bleeding and to soothe and heal skin irritations.

• Sage has had place in religious ceremonies as it was used to consecrate sacred areas. It was burned as incense to shun evil and empower spiritual protection. It was also adorned as a healing amulet and sachets were taken along to bring about prosperity.