Have you ever seen a recipe that calls for rubbed sage and wondered whether there was any difference between rubbed sage, ground sage and dried sage?
Well, there is.
Sage, (salvia officinalis) is a Mediterranean herb with a very intense flavor.
Although many purists will tell you that the only good sage is fresh sage, there are actually many applications for dried sage.
If you buy Dried Sage, you will generally find dried whole leaves in the jar.
You can use them whole in chicken soups or other similar applications where you want the flavor but not the leaves. Leaving them whole makes it easier to remove the leaf after you are done cooking.
If the entire leaf is ground into a fine powder, this is called ground sage. It is dense and heavy, like any powdered herb.
Rubbed sage consists of dried sage leaves that have been rubbed between two hard objects, (your hands will work just fine to make your own) so that the soft outer part of the leaf crumbles away leaving the harder stem to be discarded.
Rubbed sage is light and fluffy and looks almost like cotton.
There are many reasons to use rubbed sage instead of ground sage.
Rubbed sage, because of the friction, has the oils already disturbed so they will release into your food more quickly.
Rubbed sage also is lighter, and less concentrated, so a teaspoon of rubbed sage will be less intense than a teaspoon of ground sage. Sage can be a very intense and overpowering herb, and using rubbed sage in place of ground sage allows you to keep the sage flavor more subtle.
If you are following a recipe that calls for ground sage, and you want the sage to be a dominant flavor in the dish, you would need to use twice as much rubbed sage to have the same amount of flavor as ground sage.
You can make your own rubbed sage by taking a dried leaf of sage between your hand, holding it over a plate, and rubbing it briskly between your palms. The powdery soft portions of the leave will crumble away onto the plate leaving the hard stem in your hand.
The stem part is edible and has flavor, but is tough and will feel like you are eating sticks and twigs if you get it in your mouth when you bite into your stuffing or sausage.
The stems can still be used to brew tea or in any other application that will be strained or filtered before serving.