Our November herb club meeting included a fascinating presentation by Mrs. Barbara Ann Melera, owner of the D. Landreth Seed Co., the oldest seedhouse in America. Started in 1784, the Landreth Company boasts an incredibly interesting history that continues today - making them the 4th oldest company in the U.S. Mrs. Melera gave a one-hour presentation about the history of the seed trade in America interwoven with the history of her company. She also talked about the importance of the Lewis & Clark expedition; the introduction of zinnias, tomatoes, white-fleshed potatoes, and Georgia cotton to America; how the development of seed packets, seed catalogs and the automatic seed packer affected the industry; and the mission that her company continues in educating others in the incredible skill and art of gardening. Mrs. Melera's presentation was enthusiastic and inspiring. Excellent!
After her presentation, we enjoyed our lunches together and had our business meeting as usual. I had volunteered to present the "Herb of the Month" and so passed out hand-outs. I chose sage as the featured herb for November since it's so often equated with stuffing at Thanksgiving but found through my study that sage is used for far more than that! You'll find the info. I gathered below:
Herb of the Month
Considered the healthiest of all the herbs in the garden, sage represents “domestic tranquility” and is emblematic of good health and vitality. – Mrs. Bertha Reppert
Sage is an herb with a long history of medicinal and culinary uses. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used by many cultures. The Romans appreciated its important healing qualities, particularly in the aid of digesting fatty meats. The French grew large crops of sage for tea. It was also popular with the Chinese as tea, who were said to trade four pounds of Chinese tea for one pound of sage tea. They often used the herb to treat headaches. King Charlemagne ordered it planted on German farms to harvest for its medicinal properties. It was also used in ancient times for warding off evil, treating snakebites, and increasing women’s fertility. In modern times, it is still used for various medicinal and culinary purposes, as well as being an ornamental plant in many gardens.
Salvia officinalis is the botanical name given to sage in 1753. Salvia, meaning to save, is a very appropriate name for sage as it’s revered around the world for its medicinal qualities. It has many familiar names such as garden sage, common sage, kitchen sage, and culinary sage. Salvia officinalis is the type that’s become famous for adding to Thanksgiving stuffing. However, there are more than 750 varieties of sage, including purple sage, red sage and pineapple sage.
MEDICINAL USES: (all from Mrs. Bertha Reppert)
* To make a simple salve, melt a cup of lard, lanolin, Vaseline or any grease. Add a dozen chopped sage leaves and simmer slowly. To make a harder cream, simply melt in a bit of beeswax. Strain off the sage, jar the salve and store in your medicine cabinet as a remedy for minor injuries, such as cuts, burns, wounds, rashes, and even bruises.
* Sage Water can be used as a daily underarm deodorizer. Simmer sage, a good-sized sprig, in a pint of distilled water for ten minutes and strain it into a spray bottle. Sage Water can also be used in the bath or footbath. For a scratchy throat, use Sage Water as a gargle. You can add honey to the mixture for increased effectiveness and/or to tone down the strong sage flavor.
* A soft sage leaf under a denture gives instant relief and can be used to eventually heal sore gums.
* Common sage is prominently used in sausage making, poultry seasonings, stuffings and cheese spreads.
* The leaves of pineapple sage are used in tea, fruit salad, desserts or minced in cream cheese.
* Place sage sprigs on top of turkey or pork while roasting and later garnish the platter with more sprigs.
* Chop one regular-sized sage leaf into ¼ lb. of softened butter. Use the herb butter as a zesty spread for muffins or crackers. You can also use the butter to scramble egg with cheddar cheese cubes.
* If you can locate sage honey, add a few spoonfuls of it to make barbecue sauce more interesting. You can also use sage honey to glaze a roast chicken.
Sage Cheese Spread
1 C. dry curd cottage cheese
½ C. extrasharp Cheddar cheese, grated and at room temp.
4 tsp. chopped fresh sage (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. prepared mustard
Mix all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Store in crock in refrigerator at least 24 hours before using.
Sift together 1 C. sifted flour, 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, and ½ tsp. salt into medium bowl. Stir in ½ tsp. dried sage and ½ C. grated cheddar cheese. Cut in 2 tabl. butter until crumbly. Sprinkle 1/3 C. water over top; mix lightly with fork just until pastry holds together. Roll out to a rectangle, 12x10, on lightly floured board. Divide in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into ½” wide strips. Place an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 about 10 minutes. Cool on rack.
Make apple jelly according to the manufacturer’s directions on powdered pectin. After skimming off the foam from the boiling jelly, pour it into hot, sterile jars in which you have placed 2 or 3 clean and dried, fresh sage leaves. Sage jelly is said to be delicious with turkey, chicken or pork.
* Many varieties of sage look lovely in fresh or dried flower arrangements. Sage is said to dry well hanging in bunches.
* Dried sage also makes handsome wreaths.
RESOURCES FROM WHICH THIS INFORMATION WAS GLEANED:
Mrs. Reppert’s Twelve-Month Herbal by Mrs. Bertha Reppert
The Pleasure of Herbs – A Month-by-Month Guide to Growing, Using, and Enjoying Herbs by Phyllis Shaudys
Herb Gardening in Five Seasons by Adelma Grenier Simmons
November 2013 Partners in Thyme Herb Club