Sage is a decorative evergreen shrub with downy foliage that varies in color from gray to gray-green, with one variety producing deep purple leaves. The camphor scented, purple-blue flowers, which appear in mid-summer are exceptionally attractive. Plants can reach a height of 2 feet with a spread of 18 inches.
Sage prefers a sunny location with alkaline soil. It grows best in a warm climate. Propagate from summer cuttings taken with a heel or by layering established branches in spring and fall. Seed is unreliable and slow to flower. Keep the plant well pruned to encourage young shoots with a strong flavor. Pruning also keeps the plants from becoming leggy and twiggy.
· Use in sauces and stuffings for fatty meats such as goose, duck, pork and sausage.
· In Italy, the fresh leaves are lightly fried with liver, and rolled up with ham and veal in saltimbocca.
· In Germany and Belgium, the leaves are added to eel and other oily fish dishes.
Middle Eastern countries the leaves are used liberally in salads.
Because of its anticeptic qualities, sage tea is used as a gargle for a sore throat. There's also compelling new research indicating that sage may be of value to people with diabetes. Laboratory studies indicate that sage may boost insulin's action. Sage was among 24 herbs tested that were found to boost insulin activity two- to fivefold or more in patients with Type II (non-insulin dependent) diabetes. For people who have diabetes, this means that drinking sage tea in conjunction with their insulin treatments is worth a try.
To make a tea, pour a cup of boiling water over one to two teaspoons of dried leaves and steep for ten minutes. If you have diabetes, it would be a good idea to discuss using sage with your doctor. For sore throat, allow the tea to cool till warm, then gargle as needed.
Dark sage leaves are an attractive addition to potpourri.