Sage is a flavourful earthy herb that easily grows well in herb gardens. It has great uses around the home and in the kitchen. The flowers of sage plants are great for attracting beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and lacewings and repelling pests as well. Some varieties of sage, like white sage, are endangered and choosing to grow endangered plants in your garden or a pot is a great way to make an effort to help encourage the survival of the plant for future generations. Here are some great uses and substitutes for sage.
What is Sage?
Part of the mint family, this leafy herb has soft, feathery leaves that can add a slight bitter taste to dishes. This popular herb that is usually harvested during summer through early winter, pairs well with things like onion and garlic – especially good for rubs and in stuffing seasoning.
Typically, you can get sage fresh, dried or even as a powder. Fresh sage is best added towards the end of cooking, which helps with maximising the flavour, while avoiding burning the herb or adding too much of a bitter taste. Dried sage is the opposite. It is best added more towards the beginning of a recipe, as it needs to cook down. Powdered sage is also best added at the start of the recipe to give it time to cook down and become less potent.
One tablespoon of fresh sage is equivalent of one teaspoon of dried sage or half a teaspoon for powered sage. (1 TBSP = 1 tsp = ½ tsp)
Substitutes for Sage
When used as part of a recipe, like stuffing, with other spices, sage can be substituted for other herbs and spices.
This lovely herb adds more of a piney, citrusy flavour to the dish. With its milder flavour, it is best to add marjoram towards the end of cooking. Working well with meats, substitute in equal amounts – One teaspoon of fresh or dried sage = one teaspoon of fresh or dried marjoram.
Rosemary is another herb that will add a bit more of a pine flavour to the dish. Use 1 tsp powdered sage to 1 tsp rosemary or 1 TBSP fresh sage to 1 tsp dried rosemary.
Thyme will add more of a woodsy flavour to your dishes. Replace thyme for sage in equal measures. This is best for substituting when creating hearty dishes such as mushrooms, game meats and root vegetables.
This is a lovely herb that we have grown. With its slightly peppery taste, it is substituted for sage in equal measures also.
Similar to thyme, oregano has a peppery, though a more sharper taste. This is great to use as a substitute in chicken dishes. Substitute in equal amounts.
Though sweet basil has a milder taste, in a pinch it can be used as a substitute for sage, though I would try marjoram or thyme first. Substitute in equal amounts.
Mixed Spice Seasonings
Depending on the dish you are creating, some mixed spice seasonings such as an Italian Seasoning or Poultry blend contain sage. Check the label. If you are lucky enough to have one, then substitute one-for-one.
Ways to Use Sage Around the House
Smoke cleansing – One of the most popular household uses for sage is smoke cleansing. This derives from an indigenous practice of using sage to clear away negative energy in a religious space. What many do not know is the science behind the practice is that sage has germ-killing properties and burning sage releases these into the air.
Homemade cleaners – You can make a great homemade cleaner by infusing sage and citrus peels in vinegar. Place citrus peels and sage into a jar and fill the jar with vinegar. Let sit for at least 2 weeks to allow the citrus and sage to infuse with the vinegar. This will leave behind a citrus and sage fragrance rather than the smell of vinegar when you clean.
Bath salts – Dried sage can be mixed with Epsom salt for a relaxing bath perfect for unwinding at the end of the day. For the best results let sit for 2 weeks in a sealed jar for the herbs to transfer their fragrance to the slat.
Uses for sage in the kitchen
Flavoring water – Sage is a member of the mint family and like other plants in the mint family, does incredibly well in flavored water. Try a combination of sage and your favorite citrus fruits. Add a few leaves with a few slices of fruit to your water and let sit to encourage the flavor to blend with the water. For the best results let this infuse in the refrigerator for a while.
Roasted chicken – Sage goes incredibly well with chicken. When roasting chicken, mix chopped fresh sage in melted butter and pour over your chicken.
Beef stew – Sage makes a great addition to your favorite beef stew recipe. Add whole sage leaves in the last 20 minutes to help preserve the sage flavor that can tone down when overcooked.
Herb butter – Sage makes a great addition to your favorite herbed butter recipe. One great option is sage and rosemary. To infuse butter, place your herbs in a double boiler with fresh butter. Melt and warm the butter to infuse the flavor. This can be frozen in ice cube trays and moved to an air-tight container to make using it in your cooking easy.
Herb infused oil – Sage, rosemary, and garlic make an amazing herb-infused olive oil. Place your dried herbs in a small saucepan with olive oil and bring to a simmer for about 20 minutes. This will allow the flavor to infuse. Strain and place in a dark sealed bottle. Alternatively, you can choose to slowly infuse by placing your dried herbs in a bottle of the oil and putting it up in a cool dark place for a couple of weeks.
Simple Sage Tea – To make a simple sage tea, you will need boiling water and sage leaves. Check out the recipe for this simple sage tea here.
More Herbs and Spices Resources
- How to Grow, Harvest and Use Sage
- Easy Italian Seasoning
- How to Grow Yarrow
- How to Grow Nasturtiums
- Create a Gardening Journal
- How to Grow Basil
- How to Harvest, Preserve and Use Basil
- How to Grow, Harvest and Use Stevia
- Dehydrate Celery
- Make Celery Salt
- Uses for Rosemary
- Homemade Garlic Powder
Sage is really such a lovely and versatile herb, that is also easy to grow. With its strong aroma, and delicious earthy flavour, sage is packed with nutrients. It is typically only used in small amounts, sprinkled on as a garnish or mixed into recipes such as stuffing, butter and even tomato sauce.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on this website.