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Amelia Islander

For the Love of Sage

This year our garden is growing like crazy with all the rain, and where last year my herbs didn’t do too well, this year I have more than I could possibly use. My new favorite herb is sage, and happily, this beautiful and tasty herb is prolific in my garden. Sage is a Mediterranean herb with fuzzy, oval, gray-green leaves that are pungent and slightly bitter, with a musty mint taste and aroma. We always think of sage at holiday time, used to season our Thanksgiving turkeys and stuffing, but this versatile herb is finding its way onto my table in many other ways.

Fried sage leaves are a delicious snack and garnish. All you do is fry the leaves in hot vegetable oil and drain on paper towels. We like to eat the leaves with cheese and fruit. Since sage pairs very well with rosemary and thyme, you can make a paste of these three herbs, mixed with garlic and olive oil, and use it as a rub for steak or lamb. I also like to cut sage very thinly and mix it into salads. Sage will form flowers, too, which are a pretty and edible garnish.

I dry sage in bunches and store in a paper bag in my pantry, then take out what I need and grind it in my spice grinder. I think it stays fresher that way. You can also make smudge sticks with sage, which are used in Native American rituals, by rolling bunches of sage, tying them with string, and drying them out, which takes about a week. Then light your smudge stick and use the smoke to cleanse a room, the same way you would use incense.

If you have many sage plants you can make small wreaths, by wrapping bunches of sage around a wire ring and securing it with very thin wire. Then let the sage wreath dry. These are nice gifts for your favorite foodie friends.

Sage requires very little care. It is a perennial that will grow nearly anywhere, and a wonderful additional to your garden!