The latin name for Sage
is Salvia, meaning to save or to heal. The sage
does indeed have many virtues on the medicinal level, as well as being
a culinary herb.
Picture of Sage
It is part of the plant family known as Lamiaceae (originally
called Labiatae) which covers mints and lip-bloom plants, which have
flowers with petals fused into an upper and a lower lip.
There are over 900 species
of Salvia, some are annual, others bi-annual, long-lived or shrub plants.
Ten of them are indigenous in Europe, for example Meadow Sage (Salvia Pratensis).
When speaking in general about
the common sage Salvia Officinalis is the species which is normally
referred to, and which is discussed when referring simply to the word sage
on its own on these pages. Salvia Officinalis is a light grey-green
shrub, which normally grows around 30 cm (one foot) high. Its flowers
appear in the spring or summer, and are normally a blueish-mauve but can
also be white or pink. Salvia Officinalis is known for containing
useful antioxidants and its leaves, having properties of a natural antiseptic
Cooking Uses of Sage
In cooking, sage is particularly
pleasant as an aromatic herb. Its has a powerful, slightly bitter taste.
When dried the taste is at its strongest. Sage goes well with fatty
meats like duck or pork. Sage and onion stuffing is a popular use
for this herb. For a particularly nice flavour to go with meat dishes,
try adding a few sage leaves to apple sauce. Herb cheese can also be very
tasty - add a sprig or two of sage to any cheese for a distinctive flavour.
You can also turn a standard plain vinegar into a special herb vinegar
by adding dried sage.