I've been pretty open about my sage obsession. It's such a diverse herb, and I feel like there are tons of ways to use it that people don't realize. It was really hard to wean down all of sage's superb uses for my e-book, the RW Botanical Grimoire, so I wanted to dedicate a post to all my favourite ways to use it. I spent an entire summer chiffonade-ing fresh garden sage, so I'm serious about it.
Oftentimes we just think of it as the "smudging" herb and while this is true, the new age movement has taken to over-harvesting white sage due to cultural appropriation of Native American smudging practices. I blame us for this. We are not smudging. We are smoke cleansing. And we don't need to use white sage, specifically.
I just planted garden sage, purple sage and pineapple sage in my backyard garden, and I'm already antsy for it to flourish so I can use it as a great alternative to white sage. ALL SAGE is cleansing by the way, so leave the white sage alone, please, and pick another variety. Sage is so dynamic, and I promise you will love these other varieties.
1. SMOKE CLEANSING
Of course, we need to talk about smoke cleansing after the introduction above, so let's just get it out of the way. By drying sage leaves, you can place the leaves in a fire safe dish and burn them to help cleanse your house. I would recommend not burning a bundle because I feel this continues to appropriate Native American rituals. Instead, gathering your own dried sage and blending it with other loose herbs, is a great way to offer your home, space, person, crystal or other item and smoke cleanse. Read how to sage your home here.
2. SAGE SWEET POTATO MASH
This is one of my favourite recipes and a really flavourful healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. I sooooort of think of myself as a potato guru, inherited from my mother's incredible garlic cheese mash. But enough about my mad potato skills: peel, chop and boil a couple sweet potatoes and once tender mash them together without adding any milk or butter. Simultaneously caramelize some onions and chiffonade some fresh sage, then add the whole concoction together. Ermagerd.
3. SIMPLE SAGE TEA
While I'm a hearty coffee drinker, years of vocal training and teaching has me fully immersed in tea culture. Plucking fresh herbal leaves from your garden is an amazing way to enjoy tea when you keep a supply of empty teabags. You might even phase out that store bought tea once you start this... there is something that feels so healthy and magical about it. Pick some fresh sage leaves, wash them and add them to steep in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Add lemon and honey to sweeten. Oh, and just so you know, this tea has huge calming benefits and is great for those suffering with nervousness.
4. SAGE GNOCCHI
Making gnocchi is a serious project - worth it though. If you're usually lazy like me, or hell, too busy to make friggin' gnocchi, picking up some from the grocery store and adding your own sauce feels alllmost as nice. Just add salted browned butter, chopped sage, a pinch of salt and white pepper, and fresh parmesan. It's ridiculous.
5. HOUSE PLANT
If you grow garden sage properly, it will reward you with beautiful purple flowers! While the leaves make for a nice enough house plant, the flowering side to this guy is really where it's at. His flowers can make him seem like a bit of a show off since they tend to last a really long time, but I'm all for plants that don't die after three days. (I seriously go through so many tulips.)
6. BOUQUET FILLER
Here is a little secret of mine: I often tuck tall flowering garden sage into the bouquets I give my friends and family. I can be a cheapie and buy flowers from the grocery store instead of a flower shop if I'm in a pinch - flowers make life better and are totally necessary - but I always add some blooms from my garden, or an unexpected herb. Not only do they make the bouquet super fragrant, the leaves and flowers are great filler to make a dynamic arrangement. You don't even need flowering sage - the leaves alone work great. You can even add a couple sprigs to any gift wrap for a thoughtful touch.
7. SORE THROAT REMEDY
Another great tea option is to use some of your dried sage (dried sage is very versatile) for tea. Add a teaspoon of dried sage and some freshly diced ginger to an empty tea bag and let it steep in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Ginger can be an intense flavour so if you like that - steep for longer. The longer you steep the tea for the more potent it will be, and the better it will be at kicking your cold. Just make sure you can handle it. Sage is soothing and healing, and ginger is an enhancer and potent on colds, so this combo is a great natural healing elixir and really good for sore throats. Read more about these two herbs here or check out more in our apothecary guide.
8. BLACKBERRY SAGE BEVVIE
I love drinking fancy concoctions on my deck in the spring and summer, but obviously had to get a little creative when I was pregnant. One of my favourite fresh bevvies is muddling some blackberries and sage in the bottom of a glass, adding a splash of lemon juice and filling the glass with ice and club soda. This drink is also awesome with a splash of blackberry vodka, but does wonders for the boozy-free.
9. HAIR LOSS
Truth be told, the very first time I actually heard of sage was when my hair started falling out after my first round of chemotherapy as a teenager. Little did I know years later I would have a full blown sage love affair. And while chemotherapy is not quite the same as natural hair loss, I became obsessed with researching how to encourage my hair to grow faster when it did start coming in, even taking a biotin supplement - which only sprouted the hair on my legs faster. Not my head. True story. I grew up in hair salons so having healthy thick hair was always a concern for me. It still is. I discovered this article over at Livestrong and want to pass it on to anyone who might need it.
10. PRACTICAL GARDEN PROTECTION
While I find sage to be a garden staple, it is also great to plant to help protect your garden. It repels many pests that will hurt your vegetables - even ticks! The scent deters irritating bugs and keeps your little sprouts safe. It's the knight of the garden! And it does double duty as spiritual protection for your home life, too. Sage is just so friggin' thoughtful.
Sage is a super diverse plant, particularly great in a slew of recipes - but as mentioned above, there are a ton of ways you can use this herb. How do you use your sage?