Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sage Wisdom

Fresh Sage Harvest

Well, freshly picked culinary sage anyway, if not wisdom. My hands and my kitchen smell like fresh sage right now. I have just come inside (it's getting dark out there already!) from harvesting a whole basket full of fresh culinary sage, salvia officinalis, also known as common sage.

It is a perennial herb that I planted several years ago in one of my herb gardens. I do cover it with a cold frame in winter, as we get snow and cold temperatures here in the foothills, but it survives just fine and comes back to its bushy self each spring and summer. It has purple flowers on tall spikes when I allow it to flower. I've read that it's not a good idea to let your leafy herbs flower as the flowering process takes the energy and nutrition away from the leaves.

I don't use sage as an herb in my cooking very often, as its strong taste is a bit overpowering for me in the foods I eat. Some people like it paired with chicken or in poultry stuffing. I do like it mixed with other herbs in soft goat cheese. I also use it as an ingredient in an herb tea mixture that I create this time of year to have on hand for cold and flu season. Mixed with catnip and some other sweeter tasting herbs and spices like cinnamon sticks, licorice root and citrus peel, it makes a wonderful decongestant and astringent tea. Steep it with boiling water and drink it as hot as you can stand it.

Sage, although not usually culinary sage, is also burned as incense. Some people use the burning sage "smudge" to clear the air, a room or a building of negative energy or evil spirits. I think that another type of sage is generally used for this purpose, but I have been known to burn my common sage from time to time. It does freshen the air, once the smoke clears!

I grow all of my herbs organically without chemicals or pesticides. These perennial herbs are very easy to grow and resist pests naturally.

This bunch of fresh sage will get tied into small bundles and hung to dry on my high tech herb drying line that I showed you this past August as part of my Garden Art post. I will likely use the dried sage in tea as well as in some new herbal bath products that I am thinking of creating for sale around the holidays.

Any of you have more suggestions for how to use a bunch of sage, dried or fresh?

© Copyright 2008 Mountain Harvest Basket


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I can almost smell the sage now, Jen.

The burning of Sage is very popular here in the SouthWest, Just about every gift or herb store you go to carries bundles of Sage ready to be burned.
I love the aroma of the sage, too.

I never knew it was good in a tea. I figured it might be too strong, but I can where it would be very effective as a cold remedy tea. How about steeping and boiling and then placing your face over the bowl with a towel over your head.

I bet that would improve a stuff nose, eh?

Once our mini mancha freshens in the Spring, I'd like to start making goats milk soap. I wonder if Sage would be a nice addition to the soap?


Hardware Bob said...

Personally, I love the bold scent of sage, though pungent, reminds me of the high desert, exploring, rock hunting, and family outings. Scents can bring up some very personal fun memories.

Medicinally, I have heard all sorts of things from helping bleeding gums, numbing sore throats,calming upset stomachs, treating snakebites, even the prevention of Alzheimer's.

The idea that burning it rids my home of evil spirits is good, please avoid the Jack Daniels.

I simply like how it smells.

Farmer Jen said...

Hi Lisa,
I see you've changed your Blogger ID name from Twinville to LOR.

Yes, on my several visits to AZ and NM I witnessed sage smudge burning and purchased bundles of white sage in gift shops.

I didn't say it tasted good in tea, it really doesn't taste that good to me, but it does help clear up congestion and mucus from a head cold or flu. Not sure if the aromatic properties of the sage would help as much as drinking it would, but you could try it. I would love to try your homemade goats milk soap. Sage is lovely in soap. Can be kind of astringent instead of moisturizing. I sell homemade soaps (that other people make)so I am always interested to try a new one. Let me know when you make some and I'll buy a bar from you.

Hi Bob,
I never knew that you liked sage, or I would have given you some to plant in your herb garden.

Don't worry, your Jack Daniels (and mine)is safe. That's not the kind of spirit that vacates with sage smudging. It's good to sage smudge our homes from time to time. I like to do it when the seasons change to freshen and renew the air and energy.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

I've always just liked the look and color of sage plants. The soft and kinda fuzzy leaves in the glorious sage color is so pretty among the other brighter greens.

My daughter is getting ready to make some goat-milk soap for the first time (she's getting so much milk from her doe that she is soon going to be into making milk and cheese!) so I'll let you know how it goes and will mention your . . . oh, wait, she's the one that told me about your blog in the first place! I'm sure she'll stay in touch! Beautiful pictures.

Farmer Jen said...

Hi CA Grammy,
Sage is a sensuous plant. Its look, scent and feel are all enticing. Goat's milk soap and cheese making will be fun projects for your daughter. Yes, please let me know how they turn out.