When I moved a few months ago, my superstitious friend Michele insisted on coming over to "smudge". She walked through my new home holding a smoking bundle of dried sage, performing her version of an ancient cleansing ritual. I don't know if she expelled any evil from my house that day, but the place definitely smelled delicious.
How to choose it
At the farmers' market, look for sage with leaves that are vibrant in color. Avoid bunches with brown spots or limp stems.
How to use it
Sage adds a rustic flavor to marinades, sauces, rubs, and soups. For me, the herb's distinct scent conjures warm memories of Thanksgiving stuffing. In addition to its culinary applications, sage is popular for its medicinal uses. Sage tea, for example, is often suggested to ease digestive issues, and the herb has been researched as a treatment for Alzheimer's patients.
How to store it
If you plan to use your fresh sage within a few days of buying it, loosely wrap it in a damp paper towel, then store it in the fridge in an unsealed plastic bag. You may, however, want to freeze it for use throughout the year. To do so, lay the sage out on a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer. When the leaves are frozen, pull them off of their stems and store them in the freezer in an airtight container. Don't be deterred if the leaves aren't as vibrant as before; they'll still taste fantastic.