Your Herb Garden in November

It’s the time of year when most of us are putting our gardens to bed for winter. But some of our best loved and most popular herbs are still going strong, delighting us with their soft colors and haunting fragrance. And with holiday dinners and other festivities just around the corner, we are all the more thankful for the contribution they make to our special meals. This month we’ll talk about sage; next month, two other stalwarts:  rosemary and oregano.

Sage. You may think of it hand in hand with Thanksgiving turkey, for some of our most familiar turkey stuffings are seasoned with sage. And it’s terrific—wonderful flavor, and also aids digestion after a heavy meal. But that’s not its only glory, not by a long shot.

            I hope you have a couple of sage plants in your garden, even if your garden is only a small herb container by the kitchen door, because fresh sage is far superior to dried. The best way to understand its charms is to rub the soft, textured leaves; immediately a warm, rich, almost lemony, almost minty scent envelops and seduces you.

Creativs cooks, that’s your cue: Ask yourself, How can I use that that hint-of-lemon taste? Imagine fresh sage snipped and sprinkled over mushroom risotto, diced into chicken noodle soup, accenting Sunday-morning omelets, atop pan-roasted tomatoes. And try this: Finely dice one or two leaves into your apple pie mixture. It adds a warm, tantalizing flavor that will have people asking, “Wow, what am I tasting? This is fabulous.” 

Gardeners, the other glory of sage is that, because it is a perennial, it will, with a little help from you in the coldest days, stay lovely in your garden through the fall and winter. Its soft gray color and texture are a lovely foil for plants with stronger colors. 

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