Sage is known for its powerful herbal aroma and earthly favor. The staple herb is used in many cuisines around the world. It is also known as common sage, kitchen sage, garden sage, and Salvia Officinalis.
Sage is a special ingredient in holiday stuffing and you can buy it in its fresh or dried state. Sage serves for both medicinal and ornamental purposes.
What Is Sage?
Sage is a shrub part of the mint family. It has oval, gray-green leaves with woody stems. It is not palatable to eat raw sage as a result of its fluffy look and cotton-lie texture.
It has a unique aroma widely used for cuisines around the world. From seafood to meat, sage blends well with several foods and also perfect to use with other herbs.
Though sage maintains much of its flavor in its dried form, it is not as bright as fresh sage.
Similarly, dried sage has a slightly bitter taste; This means less dried sage gets used during cooking than fresh sage. There are two forms of dried sage which include powered and rubbed sage.
Unlike rubbed sage, powered sage does not retain all of its flavors and gets used up quickly.
On the other hand, rubbed sage has better potency and is often used more in quantity than powdered sage. While both sage forms can substitute for each other, the amount used gets determined by the leaf’s potency.
How Does Sage Taste?
Sage has a strong aroma that has the smell and flavors of pine and citrus. They offer an extra spice to food, thereby giving dishes a unique and exceptional taste.
How to Cook With Sage
Cooking with sage is quite an easy process. Begin by removing the pines from the stem and rinse with cold water and dry properly. Depending on the recipe used, you can either slice, chop or mince sage leaves into chiffonade. For dried or powdered versions of sage, you add them to the intended recipe.
You can also choose to deep fry large sage leaves to give a well-flavored crispy chip used as a seasoning or garnish for several cuisines worldwide. Sage combines effortlessly with other herbs such as thyme, marjoram, and rosemary. If you are using sage for the first time, sprinkle just a bit to spice up your dish’s taste.
Common Recipes with Sage
Sage is used in meat preparation like poultry but is widely in the preparation of holiday stuffings and sausage. Sage is also suitable for making butter sauce for some pasta.
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Best Ways to Store Sage
For sage to maintain its flavor, it has to be suitably stored. It would be best if you had to keep fresh sage preserved in its original plastic container or a plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Fresh sage held by this process can retain its flavor for up to a week.
You can as well keep fresh sage frozen for a long time for future use. You must note that once fresh sage becomes wilted, it loses a significant amount of flavor, thereby weakening its potency.
Keep dried sage leaves in an airtight container protected from heat and moisture. Sage leaves retain most of their taste for as much as one year when adequately stored.
Best Substitutes for Sage
Sage is quite popular in the seasoning of a variety of meals. Its pungent smell makes it a perfect fit for spicing several food varieties. However, do not fret if you can’t get a sage, as there are numerous substitutes you can use.
While sage is renowned for its unique peppery flavor, there are a couple of herbs or spices that could serve as the perfect substitute.
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Poultry seasoning is a spice herb used for seasoning turkey and chicken. Poultry seasoning consists of several ingredients, including sage, savory, thyme, marjoram parsley, onion powder, and rosemary. Poultry seasoning helps to add a unique flavor that makes them taste so much better for lovers of turkey and chicken dishes.
You can buy poultry seasoning from a grocery store or online. Nonetheless, you can prepare poultry seasoning right at the comfort of your home once you have the required ingredients.
Poultry seasoning helps in increasing the flavor of dishes. Though used widely to season chicken and turkey, poultry seasoning also serves as a d rub in for veal recipes, pork chops, and beef. Similarly, poultry seasoning blends well with vegetables, fishes soups, and pies.
How to cook with poultry seasoning:
Oil the surface of your chicken or turkey, then rub it in. Cook for 2 hours after covering with cling wrap. You can sprinkle when using it to flavor stuffing or soups.
How to use poultry seasoning as a substitute for sage:
Poultry seasoning and sage help in elevating the taste of dishes. Use an equal amount of poultry seasoning as a substitute for dried sage according to your recipe. Likewise, use one teaspoon of poultry seasoning for every one teaspoon of dried sage prescribed in your recipe.
Marjoram is a special herb, also known as sweet marjoram, and commonly used to flavor several Mediterranean dishes. Aside from its aromatic properties, the herb is famous for its medicinal usage due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Marjoram grows well in the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Western Asia dating back thousands of years.
Marjoram is usually more potent when dry and is used to garnish soups, salads, and meat dishes. It has a mild and sweet flavor which makes them blend well with several food types. Marjoram goes well with meat products such as beef, lamb, veal, pork, and chicken.
Similarly, marjoram partners nicely with seafood, pulses, and vegetables. Other recipes that go well with marjoram include
- Pour over a fresh salad.
- Toss chopped marjoram over pizza.
- Add marjoram to soups and sauce.
- Sprinkle marjoram into a cheese omelet
How to cook with marjoram:
While dried marjoram still retains much of its original flavor, fresh marjoram is preferable for cooking. Look out for young and tender stems of marjoram with small leaves. Cut off stems before washing under cold, clean running water.
Chop the leaves and add to your cooking. Add marjoram leaves at the tail end of your cooking to get the desired result.
Store fresh marjoram in the refrigerator, covered with damp paper towels, placed in a plastic bag. It is also advised you store your fresh marjoram at the lower part of the fridge as it preserves better down there.
How to use marjoram as a substitute for sage:
Marjoram and sage have similar flavor profiles. They are both useful in their fresh and dried state. Unlike sage, marjoram does not hold up to long cooking.
However, marjoram remains an excellent substitute for recipes that requires it included at the near end of the cooking process. Use the same amount of marjoram that your recipe requires for sage.
Oregano is a herb known for flavoring popular dishes like pizza and pasta sauce. The herb contains fresh or dried leaves of the oregano plant. Oregano has a strong smell and aroma, making it one of the best herbs for many cuisines in different parts of the world. Some of the varieties of oregano include:
- Mexican oregano
- Common oregano
- Spanish oregano
- Greek oregano
Oregano mixes nicely for cooking in either its fresh or dried state. The fresh oregano has a more pungent smell than the dried version. However, dried oregano is the more common form of oregano and preferred by some people because of its mild impact on dishes; instead of fresh oregano known for its incredible aroma and flavor.
Besides pizza and pasta sauce, oregano adds a delicious and earthy flavor to several foods such as seafood, chicken, soups, sauce, hamburgers, and beans.
How to cook with oregano:
Oregano holds up well during cooking which indicates that they get added early while cooking. To use oregano, ensure you remove the stems before adding leaves to your recipes. You can choose to use either dried or fresh forms of oregano.
Note that fresh oregano has a more potent flavor, so you have to be careful about how much you are adding to your dish.
Dried oregano is stored in an airtight container and kept in a cool and dry area. On the other hand, fresh oregano stores well in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator. Another way of storing oregano is by placing the stem in a glass of water with a plastic bag loosely set over the glass.
How to use oregano as a substitute for sage:
Oregano can pass for a sage substitute. However, you would not get a replica taste. You can use oregano as a substitute for sage in most poultry dishes and pasta sauces. Use equal amounts of oregano for sage as required by your recipe—one tablespoon of dried sage one tablespoon of oregano.
Rosemary is a bush fragment evergreen herb with needle-like leaves that grows wild in the Mediterranean. It is a member of the mint family with thousands of species. The aromatic herb blends well as a flavoring for several cuisines. Rosemary has a low moisture content even in its fresh state. As a result, dried rosemary still maintains good moisture content.
Rosemary is used to season meats such as lamb, pork, and chicken. You can also add rosemary to bread, soups, biscuit dough, beans, potatoes, and lentils.
How to cook with rosemary:
Chop rosemary leaves into fine strands when you are not using entire springs. Remove the leaves from their stem, mince then add to the dish.
Fresh rosemary forms store well in the refrigerator while its dried form stores best in an airtight container protected from light and air.
How to use rosemary as a substitute for sage:
Rosemary serves as a decent substitute for sage. However, you must be cautious while adding it to your dish, as too much of it can subdue all other flavors. Ensure you use fresh rosemary as a substitute for sage if the recipe calls for fresh sage and vice versa. Use equal amounts of rosemary as a substitute for sage, as stated by the formula.
Thyme is an incredibly fragrant herb with delicate woody stems and small aromatic leaves. You can find both fresh and dried forms of thyme at most grocery and online stores.
Thyme is used to flavor meat, soups, stews, lentils, cheeses, eggs, tomatoes, and sometimes tea.
How to cook with thyme:
Dried thyme is more potent than its fresh form. Depending on the recipe, you can add fresh thyme to a dish with the whole stem. If the recipe requires fresh thyme, then you would have to pluck out leaves from the stem before adding them to the dish.
Fresh thyme stands prolonged cooking quite well, so it’s okay to add at the start of cooking. For dried thyme, you should use one-third of the amount of fresh thyme required in the recipe, because dried thyme has more potency than fresh thyme.
Store fresh thyme in a refrigerator while dried thyme gets stored in an airtight container.
How to use thyme as a substitute for sage:
Use equal amounts of thyme as a substitute for sage as prescribed by the recipe you are preparing.
Savory is a herb that belongs to the mint family. There are two varieties of savory, namely summer savory and winter savory.
They both have their own unique and distinct flavors. Summer savory has a sweet and spicy aroma. On the other hand, winter savory is a bit harsh and bitter, typically used in lightly cooked food. Unlike summer savory, winter savory does not hold up well to lengthened cooking.
This is as a result of its delicate Flavoring compounds that break down when subjected to prolonged cooking.
While many recipes do not call for its use, savory adds life to the taste of foods. Summer savory is mainly used to flavor sausages and most Bulgarian dishes. On the other hand, winter savory is commonly used in meat and bean dishes.
How to cook with savory:
You can add savory with the whole stem to your dish while cooking. However, do not leave entire springs of summer savory in your dish as it poses a risk of over-flavoring your food. You can remove leaves from its stem to add to your dishes rather than using whole springs.
One of the best ways of storing the herb is by drying. Another way of storing savory is by freezing.
How to use savory as a substitute for sage:
Both summer and winter savory can pass as a substitute for sage as both herbs share a hint of pine. Although they have a similar flavor profile as thyme, they blend well in bean dishes, sausages, and stuffings. Use equal amounts of savory as a substitute for sage as stated in your recipe.
Mint is a herb well known for its aromatic properties.
There are two primary varieties of mint, namely spearmint and curly mint. Other types include peppermint, apple mint, orange mint, and chocolate mint.
Peppermint is rarely used to season dishes because of its strong flavor. Generally, mint has a lasting, relaxed feel on the tongue.
Mint can blend well in lamb and poultry dishes.
Mint is often used to flavor Greek and Middle Eastern dishes, including salads and sauces. Fresh mint is also great for herbal tea.
How to cook mint:
Cut fresh mint leaves in ribbons and add them to your recipes. For beverages, the leaves get crushed before adding to release more flavor. You can also add dried mint leaves to stews while cooking. Mint does not retain its flavor under prolonged cooking, so you should add it at the ending stage of cooking.
Store fresh mints in the refrigerator. You can also place the stem in a water container and cover it loosely with a plastic bag. Keep dried mint in an airtight container protected from light and moving air.
How to use mint as a substitute for sage:
Sage and mint are often referred to as distant relatives as they share a pinch of bitterness and pine in common. Mint would fit in well when sage is used in cooking light meals.
Use equal amounts when substituting. One fresh sage leaf = one fresh mint leaf. One tablespoon of sage should also go for one tablespoon of mint as required by your recipe.
Benefits of Sage
Sage is a powerful herb that comes with several benefits. Let’s look at some of them.
1. Sage help to improve cognition. Sage can serve as a memory booster because of its therapeutic properties.
2. Sage is used as a cleansing agent. As a result of its microbial properties, sage is used as a disinfectant against airborne microorganisms and a deodorant to eliminate foul odors.
3. Sage helps protect against free radicals in the body. Sage is a known antioxidant and so has anti-inflammatory properties that fight against free radicals.
4. Sage can help with digestive problems. Research has shown that sage could be very helpful in resolving digestive complaints such as diarrhea.
5. Sage may support oral health. Sage has antimicrobial properties that may help in fighting microbes that promote dental issues.
Final Thoughts on Substitutes for Sage
Being resourceful in the kitchen is a skill everyone must have to enjoy cooking. You might not always have access to every ingredient you desire for a particular recipe. Finding other substitutes for sage is an example of an area where you can explore your kitchen resourcefulness.
Sage has a distinct aroma that is easily noticeable in dishes. So replacing it would mean going for herbs or spices with a similar or close flavor profile.