Common sage (Salvia officinalis) is a popular culinary, medicinal and ornamental herb with a multitude of uses  It have silver-greyish leaves and bears attractive flowers which are purple-blue in colour. It is also a versatile drought-tolerant grey foliage plant and is  very hardy as it often bounces back in the spring even after a severely cold winter. It grows well after a good prune and it prefers to grow in well-drained soil.  It seems that the plant prefer having a shelter behind them. The purple-blue flowers attract beneficial insects.  It is a perennial plant and should be cut back after flowering.

Sage goes well with fatty meats in particular like pork and poultry (duck and chicken) but also with  pulses (eg chickpeas and beans).  It feature in many Italians recipes such as ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and sage, liver and veal, and they use sage to flavour wonderful tomato dishes.   They also  wrap small game birds with sage before roasting.

Sage is in high esteem for health.  It is an antiseptic, tonic and  anti fungal and it is said to aid digestion and help with blood circulation.  It is even claimed  it might be able to help control sugar blood levels according to   Sip sage tea (pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tablespoon coarsely fresh sage leaves, cover and infuse for about 15 minutes and strain)  use it as a gargle for a sore throat or for mouth ulcers and infected gums.  Or drink a tea sweetened with honey if wished.

Plant common sage as companion plant in the garden close to carrots and cabbage as it is said it protects carrots against the carrot-fly and cabbages against the cabbage moth and it grows well with rosemary as neighbour.Feel free to cut and  arrange the blooms in a vase, or use the edible blue flowers to garnish food or serve in salads.

Sage and pumpkin is becoming a favourite in our home and this is a recipe on how to make Brown Buttered Pumpkin with a rich nutty flavour, sage and pine nuts.

We often bake a washed, whole unpeeled pumpkin at 150C for 1 1/2  hour in the oven, and peel it afterwards when slightly cooled,  If it is too much to eat the same day, mash part of it and freeze the mashed pumpkin.

Butternut Pumpkin with Brown Butter, Sage and Pine Nuts (2 portions)


    • 300 grams cubed or mashed butternut or buttercup pumpkin already cooked.
    • 1 Tablespoon pine nuts
    • Brown butter
    • 2 Tablespoons (30 gram) butter
    • Fresh sage leaves (approximately  1 Tablespoon or about 12 small leaves)
    • Salt and black pepper to taste
    • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    • Parmesan Cheese


  1. Heat a pan on the stove, and quickly roast the pine nuts in the pan.  Remove the pine nuts from the pan.
  2. Brown butter in the same pan, add the sage leaves. Continue stirring and cooking the mixture for 2 to 4 additional minutes, until the butter has turned very light brown and has a rich, nutty aroma.
  3. Constantly stir the butter once the solids start to form. Once the butter starts to smell caramelised and nutty, take the pan off the heat and transfer the butter to a separate bowl.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and flavour with salt.
  5. Heat the pumpkin if necessary, and flavour with a pinch of salt.  Pour the butter over the pumpkin and serve by spooning the sage butter over the pumpkin and top with the pine nuts.  If needed, sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top.
There are many different types of sage, of which some are not edible.  Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) is a good addition to an edible garden. Some people grow the plant just for the pleasure of brushing up against it but it is useful in the kitchen too.   Pineapple sage blooms late in the season and it produces tubular scarlet-red flowers. Its leaves have a pineapple scent and are more yellow-green in colour  The Pineapple sage blooms make a delicious cordial and leaves of the plant may be steeped for teas. The minty-tasting blossoms can be used as an attractive garnish for salads and deserts. It has a soft, gentle flavour.

Supplied by Canterbury HERB Society