Maybe you’ve experienced it.
The smooth cooking, following instructions for a new recipe for a family dinner, then the recipe requires you to put a pinch of sage and suddenly find yourself in a pinch since you realize that you don’t have any of it left.
Now, before you hyperventilate or something, I’m sure you have other herbs and spices lying somewhere around your kitchen cabinet, which can be a wonderful substitute for sage.
But if you do not know which is which, I’m more than happy to show you.
But first, what is this sage?
Sage: The Star of Thanksgiving Recipes
Sage is a medicinal and culinary herb that has been used for many centuries. Its Latin name is Salvia officinalis and is derived from the Latin term “salvere” meaning “to be saved”.
This plant originated from Tibet and Afghanistan and became popular in the Balkan and Mediterranean regions. It grows around 1 to 2 feet high and produces leaves that are rich in flavors. The collected leaves are then dried to be used as a spice.
Sage herb usually comes in fresh, rubbed, or ground, the latter being fluffy and light. However, the most fragrant and flavorful are fresh sage. Ground sage is just a good alternative to fresh sage since it can replicate the flavor even though it is not advised to store it for so long since it eventually loses its strength.
Sage is a spice best known for flavoring chicken and turkey and, thus, an herb that is in high demand during Christmas and Thanksgiving.
What’s The Taste?
The sage herb is highly noticeable in any recipe because of its warm flavor and fragrant aroma. Its strong aroma can dominate over the other scents of the recipe and provide a mildly bitter taste. In some cases, its tastes like a combination of bitter and sweet tastes.
The Best Food To Use Sage
As mentioned before, Sage is a must-have spice for giving flavors to Thanksgiving turkeys and chicken.
However, the versatility of this amazing herb does not end there.
Sage is considered to be one of the most important herbs for seasoning by many Italian chefs. In Italian cuisine, sage is the main seasoning for fish recipes.
It also blends well with pork, omelets, mushrooms, cheese, and even spices up your tea. Its flavor is commonly used to stuff geese and ducks. Sage is also the main seasoning for sausages, the ones made by Slavic and German nations. It is also great for seasoning tuna, swordfish, breadsticks, and vegetables and even to your green leafy salad.
Resembling Herbs: The Best Substitute For Sage
While it is not that hard to get a hold of sage, not having it within your reach in the middle of cooking can be quite a problem.
Surely, you do not want to put everything to a stop on Thanksgiving Day and make all your guests and family wait while you run to the store and buy some sage for your turkey stuffing.
No, my friend, that isn’t very comfortable!
So, to save the day, use these wonderful alternatives instead, which can prove that whatever dish will come out will be just as good when sprinkled with sage (and probably even tastier).
1. Marjoram: Your Best Bet
Most cooks consider Majoram as the best herb replacement for sage. To begin with, marjoram is also a part of the mint family, just like sage. Both herbs are also available in dried and fresh forms.
Although marjoram is considered the best alternative for sage, you need to know that its flavor does not hold up to long cooking. Therefore, I advised that you only use marjoram as a sage alternative in recipes wherein sage is only added at the near end of the recipe.
To determine how much marjoram is needed instead of sage, you can use the same amount of marjoram that the recipe you are cooking requires for sage.
2. Savory: The Canadian Sage
Even though it is not the most common herb in everyone’s spice cabinet, savory is excellent at copying the warm earthy flavor of sage. And it is particularly popular for meat-based recipes like stew or chili and also for sausage preparations.
Savory has two types: Winter and Summer. If you want the type of savory to use as a sage alternative, try to use the latter since the former can taste slightly bitter.
3. Thyme: The Aromatic Cousin of Sage
Also belonging to the mint family, thyme has this wooden flavor with mint or citrus notes. This particular herb is commonly used in vegetable and meat dishes as well as Mediterranean cuisine.
Unlike marjoram, thyme is the perfect substitute for sage that requires a long cooking time. Thyme also comes in fresh and dried forms; however, I advised that you use the former as a sage replacement.
When you use thyme as an alternative for sage, you can use equal amounts since the potency of both herbs are similar.
4. Rosemary: A Stronger Sage
Rosemary is an herb that has a good dose of pine flavoring and a slightly salty taste, and a citrus flavor.
Commonly used in meats, Rosemary can also be used for chicken and salmon recipes and pasta dishes.
Beware. However, Rosemary has a strong flavor that can dominate other herb flavors, so you do not want to use too much that the recipe requires sage. Instead, you can use a third of the amount.
With just a pinch of Rosemary, your dish will surely have a richer flavor and will very much resemble the sage.
5. Oregano: The Spicy Substitute
Often called “wild marjoram”, Oregano is a bit warm and bitter, making sense as a sage alternative.
If you want to add an intense overall flavor in place of sage, then the dried form of Oregano will give you that. Oregano warms. It releases a strong and delicious flavor that crafts a robust and highly enjoyable taste profile.
If you have Mediterranean Oregano, then you can make perfect pasta, sauces, and chili. Take caution. However, Oregano can be a bit overpowering if you use the equal amount that you would use with sage.
6. Use Some Mint
While it may sound weird at first, mint is a good replacement for sage. Its distinctive leaves have a similar effect on food taste and work well with sweet and savory dishes.
Moreover, the mint’s astringent taste is somehow similar to the woodsy pine taste of sage, and using it as a substitute for sage can give your dishes a good lift and brightening them up.
There are various ways you can use mint since it is a potent herb that packs a lot of flavors. You can add a pinch to your stew, incorporate some into your sauces or sprinkle a bit to chicken— you will see that it can complement most dishes that require sage.
In A Pinch
Now, you probably understand that there is no need to panic when sage is somehow missing from your spice rack. All of the herbs I have mentioned above are perfect alternatives for sage for the last minute and can save your dishes from pending disaster.
Try them out, and let me know how your dishes tasted like!
I hope that you learned a lot from this article! If you have any questions, suggestions, or this great substitute for sage that I have not mentioned here, please leave it in the comment section below to help other people out.
Until then, have worry-free cooking!
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