Sage has a reputation for being a difficult herb to grow. It isn’t – it just doesn’t like love and attention! If you stick it in a hot corner and leave it alone it will grow. It also loves a terracotta pot and maybe a jug of water once a week if it is really hot.
This is a herb with a facinating history. It was so revered as a herb of immortality the Romans held a sacred ceremony was to harvest it. The appointed ‘sage gatherer’ carried a special sage knife which could not be made of iron (sage reacts to the iron salts). He dressed in clean white clothes, washed his feet and made a sacrifice of food before he was permitted to touch the herb.
In Medieval times a thriving sage bush was a clear indication that the ‘mistress was master, and she ruled the house’. Victorians added sage to their tussie-mussie posies as a wish for long life and happiness. Chinese healers thought so highly of the herb they traded three chests of tea for one chest of sage leaves. It is still the most popular herbs for space cleansing. However, planting your own sage bush is supposed to be bad luck, you have to find stranger to do it for you.
In the kitchen, sage is often used in rich, often fatty, meat dishes as it is a digestive herb and a tonic for the stomach, kidneys and liver. Although commonly used with meat, it also compliments cheese, beans, root vegetables, and lentil dishes. Be aware of the amount you use when cooking as it has a strong taste, and a little imparts a lot of flavour. Try this delicious recipe for Pasta with Sage and Parmesan
A tisane is the easiest way to use sage medicinally. Add 2-3 fresh leaves of common sage to a cup of boiling water. It is an excellent herb for the hot flushes and night sweats that accompany menopause. For sore throats, coughs, laryngitis and tonsillitis add 2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to one cup of cooled sage infusion and use as a gargle. The infusion will aid digestive disorders.
Make a strong infusion and use as hair rinse to enhance dark hair. Use in facial steams for acne and greasy skin. Rub a fresh leaf onto the teeth to whiten them.
Botanical name: Salvia officinalis