Uses for Sage Oil
Before you head out to the herb patch, let's take a look at some of the ways this versatile flavored oil can help in the kitchen:
Add it to olive oil - If the proliferation of olive oils on the market seems a bit confusing to you, you're not alone. The fact that a mild and inexpensive olive oil is great option for general cooking doesn't necessarily make it a good first choice as an at-table spread for your homemade dinner rolls. For that, extra virgin olive oil is probably your best bet and worth the money. To elevate a basic olive oil to standalone status, though, all you have to do is add a little flavor. It's a neat trick that works every time. Herbed oils impart the aroma and some of the flavor of their onboard herbs via a cold (or warm) infusion process. Adding a little sage olive oil to your potato rolls, for instance, will give them extra savor in a unique and appealing way. It's a personal touch that's easy to produce.
As a substitute for minced or rubbed sage - Fried sage leaves are delicious, but you don't need to keep a potted sage plant on your windowsill this winter to get those warm, robust flavor notes into your recipes. Incorporate sage oil in baked, stewed or slow cooked dishes and you'll pick up a subtle hint of sage without bits of the leaves floating in your sauces or peeking through your piles of carrots. Think of it a two-for-one bargain.
In sauté - I like to infuse avocado oil with sage. Avocado oil has a very high smoke point (when it starts to break down), so it's a practical as well as a heart healthy choice for frying and sautéing. A whisper of sage elevates just about any savory ingredient it's cooked with.
On fowl - If you oil the skin on chicken, turkey or Cornish game hen before cooking, consider using sage oil. You'll really like the flavor. For an added buttery mouthful, use sage butter under the skin and sage oil on the skin when preparing baked, grilled or rotisserie fowl.
In marinades - When you're adding flavor to fowl and even meaty fish using a marinade, sage oil is a good friend to have around. It works quickly, and without making your meat look like you just dragged it through a salad.
Sage Oil Recipe
- 2 cups cooking oil (olive oil is a good first oil to try, but any oil will do)
- 2 cups lightly packed sage leaves
- Large glass jar with tight fitting lid
- Presentation bottle or oil dispenser
- 30 black peppercorns (whole)
- Wash and dry sage leaves, and place them in a large glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
- Add 20 or so lightly crushed peppercorns to the jar.
- Heat oil (see note below)
- Pour oil into the jar. Make sure you add enough to cover the leaves. (Compress leaves with a mixing spoon until they're submerged in the oil if you have to.)
- Allow the oil to cool completely and secure the lid on the jar.
- Place the jar in a cool, dark spot for two to three weeks. (Test after two weeks to see if the mixture is flavorful enough for your taste. Three weeks should be about the maximum.)
- Shake the jar three or four times a week (whenever you think about it) during the infusion process.
- After two (or three) weeks, pour the oil through a fine mesh strainer and place it in its final container with the 10 additional peppercorns.
How to Make Sage Oil - Notes and Tips:
- If you don't have enough leaves, you can use sage stems. They produce a stronger and sometimes slightly more resinous flavor, though.
- Harvest sage in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before noon when the sun begins to warm up your herb patch.
- Rinse sage leaves thoroughly and let them dry in a single layer on paper towels.
- The idea is to heat the oil just enough to encourage the sage leaves to release their native oils into the mixture. Too hot, and the oil will cook the leaves -- that's a bad thing. A temperature of around 105 degrees F or slightly warmer works well for me.
- I like to remove the leaves after infusing because then I'll have a good idea of the flavor going forward. Sage can be overpowering in some mild dishes, so recognizing the potency of a tablespoon or two of oil is a good thing. Leaves left in the mixture will keep adding flavor intensity over time. I do add back one leaf (and a few pepper corns) to the oil decanter after infusing the oil. This makes it easier to identify the without having to add a label. Just a suggestion.
- Oh, if you're wondering if a recipe will taste good with sage oil, my general guideline is that if a savory recipe contains carrots, lots of onions, lemon juice or chicken, a little sage oil couldn't hurt.
- You can halve or double this recipe as needed, although when increasing it, prefer multiple jars for the infusion.
Cautions for Using Sage in Herbal Preparations: It is contraindicated if you are currently taking diabetes, anticonvulsant or sedative medications. For more specifics about drug interactions involving sage, the WebMD Sage page (yes, there is one) has useful information you'll want to review: Sage Interactions
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