“Why should a Man die, if sage grows in his garden?”
Salerno Medical School (11th and 12th centuries)
Sage (Salvia officinalis) is most commonly used at Thanksgiving as a turkey stuffing ingredient, but did you know that this humble garden herb has a place in your home apothecary cabinet? And for good reason.
While it does add great flavour to many dishes, sage also holds impressive healing properties. The name Salvia comes from the Latin word ‘salvere’ meaning ‘to save’ or ‘to heal’ and has long been cultivated in Europe and Mediterranean. Sage is high in polyphenols that work as antioxidants in the body.
In herbal medicine, sage is considered expectorant and diaphoretic which means it can be helpful at moving stagnation. Its drying and warming properties bring comfort to irritated mouths and throats in which fluid and mucus are excessive.
Sage is considered cleansing, clearing and purifying. White sage is burned as an incense to clear the air and refresh the space. Sage has also been shown to enhance memory and cognitive process. Sage’s aroma is also uplifting!
Sage is a hardy low-maintenance plant that is a worthwhile low-addition to the garden. Sage is drought and frost resistant and its unique aroma and pretty flowers also attract pollinators. It grows well in containers indoors making it easy to have within reach when needed.
So how can you prepare sage to reap its benefits?
1. make sage tea at the onset of a cold
-2 tablespoons dried or 4 tablespoons fresh sage
-2 cups of just boiled water
Put fresh or dried sage in a French press or pot. Pour the just boiled water, cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy with lemon and honey.
2. make a sage gargle
Follow the instructions for tea making and use it to gargle a sore throat or irritated gums. Add a pinch of salt and/or baking soda to draw even more benefits.
Tip: freeze your left-over sage tea in ice-cubes and have it readily available when the need arises. Feeling that tickle in the throat? Pop a cube in hot water, add honey and enjoy!
3. make a sage oxymel
An oxymel is a sweet-and-sour infused herb-infused vinegar that can be added to warm water or used as a salad dressing. It’s a yummy way to help ward off colds, sore throats and coughs.
-1/2 cup fresh sage or 1/4 cup dried
-a few coins of ginger
-1 cup honey
-1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
Place the sage and ginger to a sterilized jar. Cover with honey and top off with vinegar. Leave some space at the top for the herb to expand. Stir with a chopstick to release air bubbles. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, place a lid, label and shake well. ( vinegar will corrode the metal lid)
Store in a cool, dark place for 2-3 weeks shaking daily, making sure the sage stays submerged. Strain using a cheesecloth lined fine mesh strainer and transfer to a new sterilized bottle and seal. It will keep in the fridge for up to a year.
4. add sage tea to your bath
Add a pot of tea to your bath. Alternatively, put fresh or dried sage in a muslin bag and tie around the faucet. Let the water run through the bag and infuse your bath water.
5. make a steam inhalation to relieve cough or nasal congestion
Place the hot sage tea in a bowl or pot, cover your head with a towel and lean over. Breathe in the steam of the sage tea. Be cautious not to come to burn yourself by coming too close.
6. roast sage leaves to dress up your favourite dishes
Sage leaves are very flavourful when roasted! You can dry roast them or coat with a bit of olive oil. Heat a skillet on medium high, place rinsed and dried sage leaves in a single layer and crisp them up on both sides. Watch closely, as it takes about 30 seconds-1 minute for both sides.
Sprinkle with coarse salt and remove with a slotted spoon. Crumble and sprinkle on soups, fish, meat, salad or even home-made cookies, ice-cream or chocolate!
There you have it - 6 wonderful ways to enjoy the gifts of sage. How do you bring sage benefits into your life?
The Woman’s Herbal Apothecary, JJ Pursell, 2018
Alchemy of Herbs, Rosalee de la Foret, 2017
The Herbal Kitchen, Kami McBride, 2010