Sage (Salvia fruticosa)

Strongly aromatic and slightly bitter, absolutely essential to your Hummingbird cocktail, or for your pork or poultry stuffing. Or if you are of a more alternative persuasion, burning it cleans the negative energy from your environment.

Sage has remained a widely appreciated herb throughout the centuries due to its connection with wisdom and longevity and its therapeutic properties. Known since antiquity, it is depicted on the Minoan frescos in Knossos. Ancient Greeks used sage as a body and mind toner and in case of snake bites. To the Romans, it was considered a sacred herb, that was only collected by a designated person. It was so highly regarded by the Chinese in the 17th century, that Dutch merchants found the Chinese would exchange three chests of tea for one chest of sage leaves.

North American Indian tribes treasured the herb for its spiritual purifying qualities, and its Latin name, Salvia, means “to heal” or “to save”. In addition, the name for a wise person, the one who is having or exhibiting wisdom and calm judgement is sage. The sage plant has been praised highly for its powers of longevity.  The herb is well known in English folklore: “Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?” and “He that would live for aye, Must eat sage in May”.

Sage is a small evergreen bush with greyish leaves and blue to purple flowers. In Greek it is called Faskomilo «Φασκόμηλο»(apple bearing) and can be found throughout the Eastern Mediterranean region. Ancient Greek physicians, such as Dioscourides and Hippocrates among others, were familiar
with the medicinal and therapeutic qualities and applications of the herb. Sage is an astringent, antiseptic, tonic herb, with a camphor-like aroma. It relieves spasms, prevents perspiration and lactation, improves liver function, digestion and has anti-inflammatory, anti-depressant and oestrogenic effects.

The herbal essential oil contains thujone, borneol, and phenolic acids which are powerful antidepressant, antiseptics and antibacterials. Fresh leaves were also used in the past to clean the teeth, strengthen the gums and aid mouth hygiene. Furthermore, it is an effective insect repellent, especially for mosquitos and moths.

When it comes to cooking, it has a slight peppery flavour and is usually used for flavouring fatty meats, cheeses, and some drinks. In the UK as well as in Belgium, sage is commonly used with onion, parsley and breadcrumbs for poultry or pork stuffing. In autumn, when butternut squash is in season, the Greeks love it with sage and feta. The Greek variety (Salvia fruticosa) is considered to have a more vigorous taste and fragrance compared to the common sage (Salvia officinalis). This herb can be found in almost every Greek household and makes a delicious infusion (especially if you add some raw Greek honey), helping you cure a sore throat or a seasonal cold or flu.

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