You may have heard of sage in a spiritual context, as Indigenous peoples often used sage for healing and cleansing properties during ceremonies and spiritual purification. People also "smudge" or burn sage to remove negative energy and do some "spiritual housecleaning" in their homes. Although sage has its many uses, it is often used in many dishes. Specifically, sage does well in holiday stuffings, meats like sausage and poultry, and is typically found in other foods with herbs like thyme, marjoram, and rosemary.
Sage is a plant that has been known for decades as an herb for medicinal and culinary purposes. Its name, Salvia officinalis, originates from the Latin term "slavere" which translates to "to be saved." This evergreen subshrub has woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue and purple flowers. It can be described as a highly distinctive herb with a natural flavor and can be purchased fresh or dried and whole leaf or rubbed.
Refrigerate Fresh Sage
It's recommended that fresh sage leaves are not eaten raw, as their flavors are harsh. Rather, sage, known as faksomilo to the Greeks, should be cooked or minced to use in meals that involve squash, poultry, stews, and more. Fresh sage leaves should be aromatic and have no soft spots or dry edges.
To store, simply wrap the sage leaves in paper towels and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Make sure to use the leaves within four to five days. Fresh leaves that are covered in olive oil can be stored for much longer in the refrigerator, about three weeks. Use the flavored oil to your advantage to sauté sage with other ingredients. For example, consider a dish like butternut squash with pasta and sage leaves.
Freeze Fresh Sage
If you don't want to refrigerate your fresh sage, you can always freeze the leaves. To do so, wash and pat them dry, remove the leaves from the stems, and pack them loosely in freezer bags for up to one year. Be mindful that freezing will intensify the flavor of the herb, so you will want to adjust accordingly for cooking purposes.
Dried sage is preferred by most cooks and comes in a whole leaf, rubbed, and ground form. Rubbed sage has a light, velvety texture, whereas ground sage is more of a free-flowing powder. Dried sage is great in dressings and gravies and does well in recipes like ravioli with brown butter and sage sauce. As with all dried herbs, you can store closed containers in a cool and dry place away from sunlight. Be sure to use dried sage within six months for the best flavor.
There are many ways to preserve sage and use it in other food and drink products. Consider making sage honey to add to teas or baked goods and sage butter for fresh muffins or dressings. People also make sage salt for a variety of options like pork chops, popcorn, and roasted vegetables. You could also make sage vinegar for dressings and marinades, sage syrup for pancakes and waffles, and sage oil for salads or charcuterie.