Used for centuries as both a seasoning and as a healing herb, sage has a highly penetrating, piney, woodsy fragrance and warm, piney, earthy flavor. A traditional accompaniment for robust meats, breads, rolls and stuffing, sage also makes a warming winter tea.
Use sage with a light touch, because it can easily overpower a dish. On the other hand, it stands up well to long-cooking without any loss of flavor. Because it's strong, pair it with other strong flavors like garlic, thyme and pepper.
As a spice, sage was historically paired with meats and especially fatty meats such as pork, duck, goose and wild game not only because these meats were not over-powered by the hearty flavor of sage, but also as way of slowing rancidity at a time when refrigeration was not an option. Today, sage often flavors sausage, poultry and other meats.
Try sage in salad dressings, chowder, fish and cheese dishes. Add it to breads and muffins, beans, poultry and squash dishes, breads, tomato sauces, hearty bean soups, gravies and, of course, traditional stuffing. Sage makes an excellent butter or olive oil for pasta, rolls and breads as well.
Sage tea with honey is enjoyed, especially in the winter months, as a warming and tonifying tea, and is also often enjoyed after heavy meals. And sage leaves have long been added to poor quality wine to improve the bouquet.
Non-culinary uses for sage abound. Sage herb is an ingredient in herbal shampoos or hair rinses formulated for dark-colored hair. It is also an ingredient in body and room deodorants, gargles, mouthwash and throat sprays.
There are no declarable nutrients in 1/4 tsp. serving.
Sage contains 1 to 2.5% essential oil, which is responsible for the flavor and aroma of the spice.
Caution/Safety: Sage oil contains thujone, a potentially harmful constituent in large quantities. However there are no contraindications or warnings when using sage as a spice and in typical quantities.