Native to the Mediterranean region, this sage is now planted in gardens and by herb growers worldwide, and it is now naturalized in a number of regions throughout the world. This is the culinary sage sold fresh in North America, while the dried is Greek sage. In cooking it is particularly used with fatty meats and in poultry stuffings. It is one of several sages from which an essential oil is distilled, but not the most important. There are also many decorative cultivars that may have leaves colored purple, white and yellow, as well as white, yellow and green variegated varieties, but they generally don't have as good a flavor profile as the plain green.
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Native to the eastern Mediterranean, southern Italy, the Canary Islands and North Africa, this sage has been in cultivation since prehistoric times. This species accounts for probably over 90% of the dried sage sold in North America. It is also used for extraction of an essential oil, as well as being burned as incense. Wasp galls an inch in diameter are often found growing on this sage. They are called "sage apples" and are peeled and eaten. The wasp causing the galls was not discovered until 2001. The photo specimen was from Egypt and was quite strong despite its desicated appearance.
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Buying: Fresh sage can be found in the herb section of most modern supermarkets, and at some farmer's market where herbs are sold.
Dried is available in the spice section of most supermarkets. Buy only whole leaf, never powdered. The best place to buy dried sage is at markets serving a Near Eastern community as turnover will be high there. To substitute dry for fresh, use about 1/3 the measure.
Growing: Garden Sage is fairly easy to grow, but needs to be replaced every two years as it is short lived. For best leaf growth, cut off flower heads when they appear.
Storing: Loosely wrapped, fresh sage can survive at least a week in the fridge.
Cooking: Sage is most often associated with meat roasting, meat sauces and stuffings for turkey.
Medicinal: Garden Sage and Greek Sage are not medicinally effective. If you need to dry up a runny nose or some similar problem use either Giant White Sage or Cleveland Sage.
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