Tuesday, June 30, 2009
How to use fresh herbs: sage
I think sage is one of the classic garden herbs. It certainly is a MUST in my garden, and was the first herb I HAD to purchase in the grocery store. I tried it one time in my dressing at Thanksgiving and I could never make dressing again without including fresh sage. It is so much better fresh. It works when it is in the dried state, too, but fresh sage has a far superior flavor. I don't know what causes it to lose flavor when it is dried but it certainly does. Dried sage just doesn't quite have that something extra.
Sage is a strong herb. When using it for the first time, be sure to take it slow and easy. You can always add more but don't overdo. It is wonderful in moderation but can even cause reflux to flare up in those who have that problem.
It is a great herb to put in poultry dishes. Chop a little fresh sage and sprinkle it along with garlic salt on chicken before baking for a real treat. It is one of the ingredients that gives sausage that great savory flavor. It is really good with meat, especially pork and chicken and is a great ingredient in breads. It can really add that savory taste that will take a dish to a higher level of culinary imagination.
Sage can be added to a biscuit recipe to make it a gourmet food and a savory biscuit is really good paired with chicken salad. I also like to add a little sage when I am making croutons. You can make great oven baked potatoes by dicing them and tossing them with sage and salt, plus a little rosemary, if you have it. They are very tasty this way. In fact sage pairs well with rosemary or thyme.
Sage has also been used as an herbal remedy, probably because it is high in Vitamins C and A. I have read claims that it can cure a sore throat or mouth sores and this may be true, if you can stand the strong flavor and odor. I have read that you can make a medicinal tea from sage, but it is better if you add lemon to "cut" the strong flavor. I also read that some believe it helps with excessive sweating. That claim is less likely.
I like the smooth texture of the leaves and it can almost appear a little gray at times. It will grow until frost and will be one of the first first herbs back in the spring. So try it fresh. I will bet you will have to have it that way from now on.