The well-known sage does not just provide a favorite kitchen herb for food connoisseurs. The sage plant produces honey too!
Yes, you read that right! The bees gather nectar from the purple flowers of the sage plants to turn into delectable and health-boosting honey.
The Sage Plant
Sage are perennials from the Laminacea family.
Depending on the cultivation, the color of its leaf and flower can vary widely. Usually, it is silvery green on top and almost white on the bottom, having soft ovalate leaves. The flowers in whorls ranging from purple to light pink.
Black sage and white sage are the most known species while the cultivated forms are purple sage and red sage.
Originally coming from the Mediterranean region in Europe, it grows wild almost everywhere. In the United States, these plants are prominent in Southern California and Texas.
Though it thrives well on rocky terrains in dryer climates, garden sage abounds in vegetable gardens.
Sage has a ton of advantageous uses. Initially, it can help repel certain insects if planted at home.
Fresh sage is aromatic with a slightly bitter taste. The kitchen sage is perfect for cooking pasta and pizza. Some use the leaf to enhance the flavors in veal, lamb, gain, pork, omelet, and fish. To benefit from its healing features, the sage leaves and young branches are picked before its flowers bloom.
Sage as a healing plant
Derived from the Latin word salvia, meaning “to heal”, people have relied on sage plants for the treatment of wounds. Many believe that its antibacterial properties promote overall health.
It possesses antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anticatarrhal, expectorant, and many other medicinal benefits.
Interestingly though, sage affects people differently. It can be warming or cooling, depending on the person, their nature, and their state of health at that time.
Sage is a great inclusion in your herb garden. Not only does it look, smell, and taste good but it is thought to ward off bad energy.
What is Sage Honey?
Sage honey is produced from both cultivated gardens and wild plants. Harvesting bee pollen from the plants in the California mountains can quite be a beekeeping challenge. Many beekeepers bring their bees a long distance to reach the herbs.
In addition, mountain plants only bloom once every few years, under favorable environmental and weather conditions. Hence, a large amount of black sage honey comes from the easier-to-access black button sage plants growing along the coast.
How Is Sage Honey Produced?
Honeybees collect the most nectar during the peak blooming season which is early spring to late summer.
Sage is primarily grown for its leaves. As such, farmers harvest the herbs before the flowers even have a chance to bloom. Therefore, in order to harvest sage honey, farmers must first allow their crops to blossom. Only then can the bees work their magic.
One way for beekeepers to determine whether they would be getting a yield of quality raw honey from sage is by taking note of the scent in the air around their colonies.
Normally, bees want to cool the air temperature inside the hive during the hottest part of the day. To accomplish this, the bees simultaneously beat their wings to displace hot air inside the hive. Thus, the aroma of sage permeates the area around the colony as they perform this activity while making raw honey.
Sage Honey Varieties
Sage is cultivated for its essential oils and is a traditional energy-cleansing tool in your house.
The floral source of sage honey is the sage bushes, of whatever type. Hence, not all sage honey is the same since there are several types.
The one that comes from Salvia Officinalis L., provides several health benefits to the human body. In the Sierra Nevada mountains and California, the white flowers of the Black sage (Salvia mellifera) attract the bees. It is a coastal chaparral plant that blooms with delicate purple blossoms primarily in April and May.
White sage (Salvia apiana) primarily thrives in Southern California. Beekeepers cultivate these bushes for most of the year as a favorite nectar source to produce white sage honey.
The purple sage, Salvia leucophylla, grows mostly in Texas, but can be found across the Southwest of the United States. It produces purple sage honey which is almost black in color.
Honey from sage may also be from the nectar of Salvia glutinesa. This species grows in the Thrace, Black Sea Region, Mediterranean Region, and Turkey.
Sage Honey Health Benefits
Sage honey is at par with other honey varietals when it comes to nutritional value.
Raw sage honey has antioxidants and may contain helpful trace elements and minerals of cobalt, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Through the years, people resort to this honey in numerous ways. Like most varieties, it is a good source of antioxidants which include phenolic compounds like flavonoids. They fight the harmful effects of free radicals in the body. This helps slow or prevent the development of serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer.
This honey variety also contains a high concentration of prebiotics and probiotics. These are effective in helping digestion and treating problems in the gastrointestinal tract.
This honey is a natural remedy for colds and flu. Its antibacterial property fights the cause of illnesses and its smooth texture aids with sore throats and coughs. It likewise acts as an anti-inflammatory to calm the bronchial passages and an expectorant to expel mucus easier.
Additionally, it is an effective topical antiseptic treatment to help in healing wounds and preventing infection. Known to have both low moisture content and high levels of peroxide activity, it maintains a moist wound condition. On the other hand, its high viscosity helps to provide a protective barrier to prevent infection.
Its immunomodulatory property regulates or normalizes the immune system. It has a slightly bitter taste that opens the lungs and strengthens the immune system.
Qualities of Sage Honey
The type of sage that is the most prominent will determine the color, aroma, and taste of the harvested honey. One jar of sage honey may look slightly different from another jar.
Most types of this honey range from golden amber to very light amber in color. In some cases, others may have a greenish-yellow tinge depending on their sources.
Purple sage honey is one exception as it has a very dark purple color that can border on black. The thicker varieties of sage honey are usually amber or dark brown in color.
All sage honeys have a unique sweet smell. Due to variance in sources, their tastes vary slightly. Yet, all its varieties have a balanced sweet flavor with a floral aftertaste and creamy texture. Black Sage gently entices the palate before revealing its full-bodied complexity.
The characteristic hint of black pepper warms the mouth and leads to a smooth, clean finish. Having an occasional mix of fruity and spicy notes, this honey is definitely delicious all the way.
Does sage honey crystalize?
As with other honey varieties, sage honey also crystallizes. However, due to its low moisture content, it has an extremely slow crystallization rate.
The high fructose content means that it is slow to crystallize when stored at room temperature.
What is Sage Honey good for?
Chefs and bakers often prefer sage honey in their recipes due to its long shelf life and mellow flavor.
Among the other types of honey, it has the best honey flavor to match with savory dishes and strong cheeses. It goes well as an ingredient in rich barbeque sauces and glazes too.
An ideal sugar substitute and a great inclusion in most honey recipes, this is a perfect pair to your peanut butter.
Spread it on bread and muffins or take a spoonful right from the jar as a quick energy boost. Enjoy it in your herbal tea or coffee and fruit juices. Or, drizzle it across a salad or a grilled peach, or with your oatmeal or cookies.
You can also as a glaze on pork loin or incorporated it into your Thanksgiving stuffing.
Sage honey makes an excellent choice to make mead. An outstanding sweetener, stir it into concoctions like the mysterious Mt. Olympus, and after hours add a few magic ingredients to make the Bee Raw Tea Toddy.
Try it in the kitchen and for sure, it will quickly become one of your favorite honey ever.
Tips and Precautions
Buyers should choose raw and unfiltered sage honey to get the freshest, most fragrant experience. Always store it in an airtight container, away from light or extreme heat.
Sage is drying in nature. Hence, it should be avoided if you are breastfeeding unless you need to reduce breast milk production. Pregnant women should refrain from taking it in a medicinal dose. Generally, it is not recommended for people who suffer from dehydration.
Because of the thujone, a volatile oil that the plant contains, people with seizures should refrain from taking it.
Too much sage honey can lead to negative consequences like vertigo, sickness, and vomiting. Thus, it is best to consult your physician first before taking it regularly, especially, in large doses.