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HERBS

Sage

Salvia officinalis

By Shirley Miller

Purple Sage
S. officinalis 'Purpurea'

Sage is a hardy evergreen shrub. Foliage is gray-green, with some cultivars exhibiting purple or variegated pink-white-green leaves. Leaves are set in pairs, thick and downy with pronounced veins on the undersides. Sage grows from one to two feet in height. Purplish to blue flowers are two-lipped, generally mauve-blue in color. White and pink blossoms are found on cultivars "Tricolor" and "Albiflora".

How to grow: To grows sage, select a sunny site with light, well drained and slightly alkaline soil.. Plants should be 18 to 24 inches apart. Prune frequently to keep plants bushy. Replace woody plants every 4 to 5 years. Sage is suitable for growing indoors with sun.

Propagation: Sage is readily grown from seed. Cuttings root easily in summer. Rooting time is about 4 weeks.

Harvesting: Pick leaves as needed for fresh use. Gather leaves for drying before flowers open.

Preserving: Dry leaves slowly to preserve flavor and to avoid mustiness. Store in glass containers in a cool, dry area. Make sage vinegar.

Golden Sage
S. officinalis 'Icterina'

Culinary uses: Sages' highly aromatic and pungent flavor is best utilized on its own. Sage is a wonderful addition to soups, sauces, stuffing, stews, fish, shellfish, meats and poultry. Scatter bits of sage leaf in salads. Add Sage to rich, fatty meats such as pork, duck and sausage. Sage is particularly good blended into cheeses and butter.

Other uses: Sage leaves are attractive in wreaths and other flower arrangements. Put dried leaves among linens. Sage smoke helps eliminate animal and cooking odors.

Shirley can be reached by Email: Shirley.