Sage is spicedom’s smoother savory. Rubbed, the right way, sage’s softer side shines.
Burning question: What is “rubbed” sage, versus ground? Rubbed is similar to “crushed” in that it’s bigger, more irregular pieces of the herb’s leaves, that are just enough to release a little more of the essential oils of them without grinding. The more that the spice is broken down, the more likely that you lose some of the potency of the essential oils in the leaves.
Rubbed sage is more aromatic, smoother, and mellow. Rubbed sage is a mostly role player in cuisines, a secondary, or background note in the group of spices. It has a dusky flavor that accentuates basic culinary savory vegetables like onion, and garlic, and pops contrast flavors like celery, and bell pepper too. It has less of the camphor flavor that other sage varietals possess.
Sage is native to a range of coastal regions that starts in the North at the Western Balkan Peninsula, across the Apennine Peninsula, down to Italy. Commercially, today, it is grown throughout Southern and South-Central Europe, and in other parts of the world. One sub-group makes up all of the commercial seed/plant production.
Rubbed sage from our recommended supplier comes from Albania.
Sage’s “roots” trace back at least 20,000 years ago. It was one of the hearty plants to survive the last glacial period that descended upon Europe. It grows natively in arid rocky coastal soils. The herb has been used by the peoples of Europe for millennia as an aromatic for both cooking, and as a decorative, making living spaces smell better.
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