Thursday, June 23, 2011

Herb of the Week

I'm baaaaaaack!  Actually, I didn't go anywhere, but just have been toooooooooo busy to spend time at the computer.  The past 2 months have been filled with garden shows, programs, work in the greenhouse, 4-H projects, yard work (that never seems to be caught up!) and now I am into Farmer's Market season.  Whew!  That's how spring is here every year.
I had a brilliant idea a last week and thought I would put it into action.  Herb of the Week.  Each week I would like to present to you a specific herb or group of herbs that we can identify, learn about, see pictures of it, and learn how to use it.  Maybe I can expand your horizons and also expand your herb garden.
This week my Herb of the Week is Pineapple Sage.  It is a delightful plant to grow.  When you rub the leaves, it smells just like fesh pineapple.  It is in the Salvia family which includes regular sage (for Thanksgiving dressing), ornamental sages like scarlett sage and blue bedder sage, ceremonial sage like white sage used in smudging, and even salvia seeds that they use on Chia Pets.
It is easy to grow, but is a tender perennial - meaning that it will not take our cold winters here in Indiana.  You can try to keep it in a pot and take it in for the winter, or just treat it like an annual and buy a new plant each spring.  Many people do that because they love having pineapple sage in their garden and it gets so big it is difficult to take in for the winter.
It grows quickly, so allow plenty of room in your garden for it as it can grow up to 3 or 4 feet tall and almost as wide!  That was one of many mistakes that I made in my very first herb garden.  I planted not 1, but 2 pineapple sages!  And they quickly overtook almost everything else in the garden because they got so big!!!  Life is full of learning experiences, isn't it?  Plant it where it will get at least 6 - 8 hours of sunlight a day and make sure it gets plenty of water, especially on hot summer days (but don't keep it constantly wet).  In late summer or early fall it will be covered in bright red tubular flowers.  The butterflies and hummingbirds just love it!!!!
The beautiful blooms of pineapple sage.
Pineapple sage is a great tea herb.  It can be dried and used for winter tea making, but it does lose a lot of its flavor once dried.  So use it fresh for teas and maybe freeze some of it for fresh-tasting teas in the winter.  Pineapple sage can also be used in cakes, pies, fruit salads, sweet vinegars, marinades, and I even found a jelly recipe that I plan to try later this week.  Look for it at my Farmer's Market booth soon!  You can add it to puddings, salads, cream cheese, and the flowers are edible and add great color!  You can also add fresh pineapple sage leaves to lemonade or iced tea.  You can make a delicious sun tea by simply putting equal parts of pineapple sage leaves and lemon verbena leaves in a jar and fill with water.  Set the jar in the sun, and brew a naturally sweetened and refreshing iced tea.
Like cake?  Who doesn't?  Here is a yummy recipe for a Pineapple Sage Pound Cake:
Cream together 1 cup butter and 1 cup sugar until very light and fluffy.  Beat in 1/4 cup honey.  Add 5 eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat for one minute after each addition.  Beat in 2 Tblsp. chopped pineapple sage leaves, 3 Tblsp. pineapple sage flowers, 4 Tblsp. well-squeezed, chopped pineapple, and 1 tsp. grated lemon peel.  In a separate bowl, stir together 2 cups flour and 1 tsp. baking powder.  Fold the dry ingredients into the beaten ingredients until just blended.  Pour into 4 mini loaf pans (6" x 3" x 2") and bake at 350 degrees F. for 45 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.
Want to grill out this weekend?  Try this lovely marinade for Pineapple Sage Chicken:
1/4 cup Teriyaki or Tamari or Soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tblsp. lemon juice
2 Tblsp. apple juice
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger root
Handful of Pineapple Sage leaves, chopped
Add some chopped jalapenos if you would like a little more kick!
Marinade chicken in the above ingredients and cook on the grill.  Serve with pineapple kabobs.
So there is some information and recipes to get you started.  Come see me a my Farmer's Market booths or visit the store and get at least one pineapple sage for your garden!  I'll have them on special while supplies last!
More news to come.  I have been taking pictures of various events, experiments, and projects and hope to post them in the next few days.  But now, I'm off to make blueberry jam!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Oops. I planted mine in a tight spot. However, it looks fabulous against those new orange-ish colored coneflowers. I think I will do the 'freeze in water' idea. Thanks Joyce!