Thursday, May 15, 2014

Serving up Sage.

Yesterday’s recipe using clary got me thinking about the other varieties of sage, and made me realise how little blog space I have allocated to the Salvia genus so far.

The name ‘Salvia’ derives from the Latin salvere, the verb related to salus, which means health (and prosperity and salvation,) and signifies the reputed medicinal benefits of the plants. In The Universal Library Or, Compleat Summary of Science, by Henry Curzon, published in 1712, the author says that “Sage comforts the Sinews, is good against Trembling, and dryeth Humours.”

If you suffer from uncomfortable sinews or the trembles, perhaps a little Sage Wine would help?

Sage Wine, very good.
To twenty-eight Pounds of Malaga Raisins pick’d and shred, have twenty-eight Quarts of Spring-water well boil’d, but let it be cool as Milk from the Cow, before you put in the Raisins; then put in half a Bushel of Red Sage, grossly shred; stir all together and let it stand six Days, stirring it very well every Day, and cover it as close as you can; then strain it off, and pour it into your Vessel; it will soon be fine, but you may add two Quarts of Sack or White-wine to fine it; Raisins of the Sun will do as well as Malaga, if they cannot be had.
A Collection of Above Three Hundred Receipts in Cookery, Physick, and Surgery: For the Use of All Good Wives, Tender Mothers, and Careful Nurses (1734)
by Mary Kettilby.

And if wine, why not cheese? The following recipe also uses red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza.)

To make a plain sage cheese.
Bruise the tops of young red sage in a mortar, till you can press the juice out of them; bruise likewise some leaves of spinach or spinage, and having squeez'd out the juice, mix it with that of sage to render it of a pleasant green colour, which the juice of the sage alone will not make it, and this will also allay the bitter taste of the sage.
Having prepar'd the juice put the rennet to the milk, and at the same time mix with it as much of the sage, &c. juice as will give the milk the green colour you desire, putting in more or less of the sage juice to that of the spinage juice according as you would would have the cheese taste stronger or weaker of the sage.
When the curd is come, break it gently, and when it is all equally broken, put it into the cheese-vat or mote and press it gently, and the gentle pressing will make it eat tender and mellow, when on the contrary the pressing of it hard will make it eat, hard; when it has stood in the press about eight hours it must be tasted.
The London and Country Cook: Or, Accomplished Housewife (1749) by Charles Carter.

Common, or Garden Sage is, of course, a fine traditionally flavouring for all manner of meat dishes. Here, from the book mentioned above, The Universal Library Or, Compleat Summary of Science (1712) is a fine example:

To Boyle a Leg of Veal and Bacon.

Lard your Leg of Veal with Bacon all over, with a little Lemon-Peel amongst it; then boyl it with a piece of Middle Bacon; when the Bacon is boyled, let it be cut in Slices, Season it with Pepper and Dried Sage mixed together; Dish up your Veal with Bacon round about it. Let it be sent up with Saucers of Green Sauce, and strew over it Parsley and Barberries.


Mae Travels said...

Interesting: I recently bought sage cheese at the Santa Barbara, California, Farmers' Market. So it's not entirely unknown today. All those Mediterranean herbs grow beautifully in the California climate, at least for the moment (they are badly affected by drought).

SometimesKate said...

Sage is probably my favourite herb, followed closely by thyme and bay. I think it's particularly good in baked beans, and of course stuffing.

korenni said...

SometimesKate, have you ever used pineapple sage? I like to grow it because of the delicious scent, but it has disappointed me in salads because it has no pineapply flavor. Any suggestions?

The sage cheese sounds like Sage Derby, which Wikipedia says first appeared in the 18th century. Tasty!