3 August 2014

How to Cope with an Abundance of Sage!

Last night my excellent neighbour Julie gave me a bunch of sage from her garden, and when I say a bunch I really mean A BUNCH! 



The house smells wonderful!

After admiring and sniffing for a while I decided to put some aside for later so I froze a batch in oil, have some drying and made sage butter.

To dry herbs

In the case of sage this may also keep evil spirits away from the house – certainly burning sage leaves does!

~   Remove all damaged leaves and make sure the leaves and stalks are completely dry.
~   Assemble a few small branches of your herb and tie together.
~   Poke a few holes in a large brown paper bag and insert the bundle of sage, leaves first.
~   Gather the bag opening around the stems and tie shut making sure to leave the sage plenty of room in the bag.
~   Hang upside down somewhere nice and airy.
~   They should take about 2 weeks to dry but keep an eye on them.
~   When fully dried out store in an airtight container in a cool dark place.
~   Keep them whole dill needed then crush – this way they will release the most flavour.

1 teaspoon of crumbled dried herbs is about the same as 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped herbs.


As you can see I’m doing a bit of lavender too.

To freeze herbs

There are several ways to freeze herbs, which are ...

~   Stuff them into a freezer bag till well packed and squeeze out as much air as humanly possible. Freeze.
~   Coarsely chop or keep small leaves whole, divide between hollows in an ice cube tray and top up with your choice of water, stock or olive oil.  This works really well as once frozen the cubes can be decanted into a freezer bag and then you can add a cube here and a cube there as needed.  I didn’t do this with mine, this time, however as I didn’t want to contaminate the freezer with lots of sage flavoured ice cubes – my real man might object. 
~   Purée torn leaves with twice their volume of olive oil and then freeze in an airtight container. The beauty of this method is that the purée doesn’t freeze very hard so you can actually scrape out what you want. 

Herb Butter

I have written a lot before about compound butters, see here and use sage!

Two other way to save sage for later ...

Sage Vinegar

Put clean sage leaves in a sterilised jam jar, enough to loosely fill it. Add enough cider vinegar to fill the jar then put on the lid.  Keep for 2-3 weeks before using but do give it shake every now and then.  This, of course, makes great vinaigrette or marinade for porky items – see here for info. http://suddenlunch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/how-to-make-vinaigrette.html

Sage Honey

Same as above but using runny honey!  This is very good brushed on pork, ham and bacony things or drizzled over cheese.  See here for lovely Honeyed Stilton on Toast
http://suddenlunch.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/honeyed-stilton-on-toast.html

This left me with ...


So here are lots of ideas (I’m going to need lots) for using sage.

Quick ideas, links and recipes

~   Add a little chopped fresh sage to cheese scones.
~   Sage leaves either as naked as the day they were born or dipped in a light batter and deep fried make a great crispy garnish.
~   Mashed potatoes - warm a little chopped sage in a tablespoon or so of melted butter and allow to steep for a few minutes before mashing into hot, freshly cooked potatoes.
~   As sage goes so very well with pork try mixing some in with minced pork and make pork burgers and bit of grated apple would go well in these too.
~   Toss chunks of parsnip and of apple in olive oil together with fresh sage, salt and pepper and roast to serve with pork.
~   White Bean and Fresh Sage Dip – information on bean dips her– use  cannellini beans, fresh sage and lemon juice or whatever combo you fancy!
~   Add sage to polenta, it works really well.  See here for howto make polenta, you’ll have to read down a bit for the recipe
~   Add a bit of fresh sage to egg dishes as in this chorizo, asparagus and sage scrambled eggs that I had for lunch yesterday.


~   Sage and Cheddar Cheese Straws – see here and add sage!  Did you guess? 
~   Make a dipping oil for good bread, or, related to this ...

Sage and Walnut Pesto

60g walnuts –preferably toasted for deeper flavour
2 cloves garlic
30g of fresh sage, coarsely chopped
30g fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
60ml cup olive oil
30g grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste

~   Coarsely chop the garlic and walnuts in a food processor.
~   Add the herbs and chop in with the nuts and garlic.
~   Gradually process in the olive oil.
~   Stir in the cheese then taste and season.

This can also be made with a pestle and mortar which results in a more rustic and very pleasant variation.  Toss with hot pasta or add to sauces, cheese on toast, sandwiches, dressings etc.
  



~   Sage goes brilliantly with squash so add some when roasting or top butternut soup with a drizzle of sage pesto or a little sage butter.






This soup, which I've just eaten, was made using my key recipe which I explain all about in “Soup (almost) the Only Recipe You’ll Ever Need" which gives 50 delicious soup recipes, instructions for stock making, guidance on adding herbs, spices and other flavourings plus additional recipes for roasted garlic, pepper coulis, frazzled leeks, compound butters and other garnishes and accoutrements.  





Sage and Onion Stuffing

Traditional Sage and Onion Stuffing probably springs to mind for most people at the mention of sage. I always make my own stuffing, sometimes with and sometimes without sage – here is a loose recipe or guideline.

~   Fry coarsely chopped onion together with your choice of carrot, celery and garlic in a little oil till starting to take colour. If adding raw meat eg. bacon or sausage do so now.
~   When it is turning golden in places add a handful or two of diced or torn dry bread and just enough hot stock to moisten it.
~   Add a knob of butter, cover and set aside for about 20 minutes.
~   Stir in the butter and make sure that the bread is thoroughly soaked through but not sitting in liquid. If it is drain it off.
~   Taste, season and add any cooked meats, herbs (time for the sage!) or spices.
~   Stuff into a bird, roll in a joint of meat or put in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with a little more butter and bake alongside the roast for the last 20 minutes or so of cooking. The top should be crisp and golden.

Brown Butter and Sage Sauce – serves 3-4

A simple but famous sauce which is excellent on pasta, gnocchi and especially butternut ravioli.  Make the sauce whilst the pasta, gnocchi or whatever is cooking.

60g butter
10 medium sage leaves – cut into shreds
juice of half a lemon
50g grated Parmesan

~   Melt the butter in a frying pan and then continue cooking over medium heat till it turns a golden brown.
~   Add the sage leaves and remove from heat.
~   Stir in the lemon juice and set aside till needed.
~   When the pasta is done add spoonful or two of the pasta cooking water to the butter sauce in the pan and then drain.
~   Reheat sauce, add the cheese and toss with the pasta, or whatever!

Apparently sage has many attributes healthwise but I’m not getting into them here other than to mention that apparently it was oft said in Roman times ...

"Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto?"
('Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?')


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1 comment:

Choclette said...

Some lovely ideas here Suzy - gorgeous pictures too. I got a bit fed up with walnut and sage pesto, but yours looks a bit lighter than mind, so I might try it once again. Really like the idea of adding it to polenta too.

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