Pineapple sage is a lovely scented herb that has both medicinal and culinary uses. It grows as a tender perennial in zones 8 to 11, and is indigenous to Guatemala and Mexico. It gets its name from the mild pineapple fragrance of its green leaves. Taste-wise, it is not as strong as common sage, and adds a nice mixture of light sage and citrus to food and beverages.
In addition to its culinary and medicinal qualities, pineapple sage makes a beautiful addition to the garden, as it grows quickly into a shrub, from 3-5 feet. Hummingbirds and butterflies love this plant because of its scent and its red, trumpet-shaped flowers (which usually bloom in the south in August and later further north).
Cooking with Pineapple Sage
For some reason, you can’t find fresh pineapple sage in grocery stores or supermarkets. Perhaps it’s because many people just don’t know how to use it. That’s unfortunate, because it is as easy to cook with, as it is to grow. Those cooks who use it just grow it in their gardens.
Here are just a few suggestions for the culinary uses of this non-fussy plant.
• Roughly chop the leaves and add to pound cake. It adds a wonderful flavor.
• Use the more tasty younger leaves to flavor a tropical fruit salad.
• Instead of using common sage, add pineapple sage to lemon zest, garlic and butter to make a delicious poultry rub. You can also stuff the rub under the skin before roasting a chicken or turkey.
• Make a pesto out of it instead of using basil.
• Set the leaves on top of fish while baking or grilling.
• Steep the leaves in hot water for a delicious tea. You can also put the tea in the refrigerator for ice tea.
• Use it to make jam.
• Pineapple sage makes a great garnish for mixed drinks, and is a delicious ingredient to add to a piña colada.
• Add to vanilla ice cream for a tangy pineapple flavor.
• Make a salad dressing by combining pineapple mint, olive oil, and rice vinegar.
• For a fruity spread, mince the leaves and edible red flowers into cream cheese.
• Knead a handful or two of chopped leaves into bread dough.
• Dry the herb, stems and all, for use during the winter months.
Many ancient cultures, including Greeks and Romans, used pineapple sage to treat indigestion, heartburn, and to balance the nervous system, usually administered in the form of tea as a general tonic. Traditional Mexican medicine still uses it to treat anxiety and lower blood pressure.
There is scant scientific research to support any of the medicinal uses, although a preliminary study showed the potential of pineapple sage having anti-depressant and anti-anxiety properties in mice.
There are so many uses for pineapple sage, that there simply is not enough room here to list them. Just use your imagination, and your pineapple sage plant will give you years of enjoyment.
Before using it in any form, make sure the herb in question is truly pineapple sage. Also, always check with your doctor to make sure that pineapple sage or any herb you ingest is not contraindicated for any condition you may have or for any medicine or supplements you may be taking.