Sage is an aromatic and medicinal herb native to the Mediterranean region. While known for its digestive, wound-healing, and stimulant properties, sage is also prized for its strong flavor. Common sage (Salvia officinalis) is the most widespread variety in France, although some 600 varieties have been identified around the world. Depending on the variety, its long, gray-green and velvety leaves are used to flavor savory and sweet culinary preparations.
Fresh sage should be bought from a fruit and vegetable dealer. Choose firm leaves without brown blemishes. You can dry them yourself or buy dried sage from a supermarket.
Sage should be used sparingly due to its strong flavor. It is used to flavor white meats, such as veal (for example, the Italian saltimbocca); organ meats (offal), such as liver; and pork. It is well suited to eggs and green or white beans. In the United States, sage is used to flavor the stuffing for Thanksgiving turkey, but it can be used for any kind of stuffing. It aids in the digestion of filling meals. A sage sorbet is an original and effective way to end a meal. Sage is also used to flavor fruit salads and apricot jam and preserves.
Fresh sage will keep if the stems (stalks) are left in water, while dried sage should be kept in an airtight jar away from light.
Sage is an antioxidant and is high in iron.
Petit Sauge de Provence is smaller but more aromatic than other varieties of garden sage. Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is native to Mexico. Its scarlet leaves have a flavor reminiscent of pineapple.