Friday, May 29, 2009

Pining for Pineapple Sage - Recipes Abound

Pining for Pineapple Sage
by Michele Brown and Pat Stewart of Possum Creek Herb Farm
Originally ran in the May/June 07 issue of The Essential Herbal Magazine

“Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?”
13th century quote

Salvia elegans in bloom Salvia is from the Latin “salvere” meaning to save, to cure or be in good health. The French agreed, calling it “tout bonne” or all is well.


The majority of historical information refers to sages in general. However, I see no reason that the notoriety shouldn’t run in the “family”. Romans held sage as a sacred ceremonial herb. It was thought to be beneficial for longevity, wisdom and memory. With a long history as a healing herb, it was said to cure snake bites, eye problems, infection, epilepsy, intoxication, memory loss, worms and intestinal problems? And beyond that, it was considered an aphrodisiac!
Did you know? One superstition was that the plant would thrive or wither according to its owner’s fortune.


Originating from Mexico, pineapple sage is a tender perennial, growing 12-30 inches tall and 2 feet wide.
Leaf: bright green, in pairs, more pointed than other sages; somewhat soft, fleshy and fuzzy, with pronounced veining underneath. Tinge with red as they mature. Bruising the leaves yields a sweet pineapple fragrance.
Flower: tiny, deep-throated, tubular, two-lipped, scarlet/ruby blossoms on slender green stalks in late summer; tangy, citrus-mint flavor. Loved by hummingbirds and bees.
Seed: tiny, dark brown, ovoid.
Stem: Square, turning woody after the 2nd year.


The plant can be propagated by lifting and separating clumps or taking semi-hardwood cuttings in the spring. The cutting should be striped of half its leaves and planted half the length of the cutting into the soil. Replace woody plants every 4-5 years.
Pests include slugs, spider mites, spittle bugs, root rot and wilt. For companion planting, it is said to improve the growth of carrots, marjoram, strawberries and tomatoes.
Because it is a tender perennial, it requires mild winters, wind and sun protection, weekly watering and temperatures above 30oF.
I have been successful wintering over my pineapple sage by heavy mulching at the end of the season (before the first frost).


Avoid harvesting the first year. Leaves and flowers are harvested fresh. Leaves should be harvested prior to blooming. Unlike other herbs, the flavor intensifies as it dries. Because the leaves are somewhat fleshy, it is prone to mold as it dries. Be sure to dry the herb in a warm, dry place with good air circulation.

Put it to Good Use!
Nothing smells any better than the sweet, soft pineapple fragrance that this herb imparts. What poor pineapple sage lacks in impressive history, it makes up in culinary delight.
The leaves can be used to flavor teas, chopped for use in chicken and pork dishes, cream cheese, jams, jellies and fruit salad. Leaves should be added at the end of cooking time. They can stand in for regular sage in almost any recipe. The flowers, with their citrus-mint flavor, can be tossed into salads and teas.
Pineapple Sage Tea
(Spring or bottled water is used so as not to overpower the delicate pineapple flavor with any water-related aftertaste)
1 quart spring water
½ cup packed fresh pineapple sage leaves
3 T honey
1 lemon or lime
Bring water just to a boil and pour over the sage leaves. Stir in honey and lemon or lime juice to taste. Steep tea for approximately 20 minutes. Bring to a boil and then strain into mugs.

Pineapple Sage Pound Cake
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
¼ cup honey (light wildflower or sage preferred)
5 eggs
2 T chopped pineapple sage leaves (small, new leaves have the most flavor)
3 T chopped pineapple sage flowers (optional)
1 t grated lemon peel
4 T well-squeezed, chopped pineapple
1 t baking powder
2 cups flour
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in honey. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to beat one minute after each addition. Beat in sage leaves, flowers and lemon peel. Stir dry ingredients together and add to butter mixture. Fold these together gently until just blended. Pour into 4 mini loaf pans (6”x3”x2”). Bake at 350oF for 45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Banana Pineapple Sage Smoothie
¾ cup fruit flavored or vanilla non-fat yogurt
1 t honey
1 small banana
1/3 cup skim milk
1 T chopped pineapple sage
½ t ground cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

The leaves of pineapple sage may be used in potpourri or sachets. The blossoms are loved by hummingbirds, especially the ruby-throated variety and any other late season stragglers.

Pineapple Sage Face Mask
(for all skin types)
½ cup boiling water
1 T fresh pineapple sage leaves
3 T oatmeal
2 T honey
1 egg white
Pour boiling water over leaves and allow to cool completely. Strain and add oatmeal, honey and egg white. Mix until smooth and creamy. Spread mixture on clean skin and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse well with warm water and pat dry.

Even if it does have to play second fiddle to its other family members, it is in a class by itself in the culinary arena. Just try a sprig in a jar of sun tea. One sip and you’ll be hooked and pining for pineapple sage!


Comfrey Cottages said...

thanks for sharing the recipes tina! i always plant pineapple sage for the hummingbirds and i just love its statement in a garden and its fragrance. i honestly needed some recipe ideas for harvesting it for me too! thanks bunches! hugs from leslie :)

Anne-Marie said...

What fun recipes! The Pineapple Sage Tea sounds delicious ... (drool)

Bets in AL said...

My plant labeled Pineapple Sage has bright yellow leaves, and as yet no flowers. It does have a delightful soft fragrance of pineapple. It is fully two feet by two feet, very tightly bushy and growing larger. Can this really be pineapple sage, or mislabeled?
Bets in AL

Tina Sams said...

I've never, ever seen it with bright yellow leaves - but with this summer as odd as it has been, almost nothing would surprise me.

shannon marie said...

Grat blog! Glad I stumbled on here. I just planted pineapple sage this year and have been wondering what to do with it. Thanks!

shannon marie said...

I just planted pineapple sage this year and have been wondering what to do with it. Thanks for the great tips!

shannon marie said...

I just planted pineapple sage this year and have been wondering what to do with it. Thanks for the great tips!

Anonymous said...

Love the pineapple sage plant! Its huge in its first year, Im going outside now to harvest it, then try to over winter it..wish me luck!
Back to Basics Log Cabin

Anonymous said...

I live in North Alabama and am wondering if it is worth wintering it or just replandting a new one next Spring. Please share your opinions, as this is my first go at this plant. I love it!

Tina Sams said...

I think you might be able to keep it going in the garden over the winter. Here in the north, we had a different variety make it last year! And a friend of mine in southern TN has good luck with pineapple sage coming back year after year. Try mulching it well, and if it doesn't work you're only out a couple of bucks.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much! I have never "blogged" if this is what you call it but can tell you I LOVE this site. Thanks and have a wonderful Autumn!

Tina Sams said...

:-) yes, this is a blog that contains some articles from our print magazine, tales from my own gardens, kitchen, and travels.
I'm glad you like it.

Caroline Scott said...

Thank you for the info on pineapple sage.
I have a plant which is still holding up in the early frosts.
I am going to pot it and take cuttings thanks to your info and recipes.

Bethany Benton Art said...

I am so glad I found your blog! I've had pineapple sage in my garden for years, but haven't actually used it for anything. I just liked being able to walk by it and rub the leaves ... lol. It has such a lovely scent. I'll put your recipes to good use. Love your blog!

Anonymous said...

for the person who posted about yellow flowered pineapple scented plant I think you might have the above plant. Which is not a sage but still looks pretty

Anonymous said...

I put this pineapple sage in a window-type box with some other herbs just to use in the kitchen ad lib....should I have put it in the ground instead?

Tina Sams said...

It will get big - like a shrub - outside, and (at least here in the north east) towards fall, be covered with the flowers. I'm not sure it will do as much inside.

Anonymous said...

Hi I live in Michigan and stumbled on your delightful blog, I was wondering how my plant will do this far North

Tom said...

I live in NJ, have a small garden of ,Basil ,Mint.peppers tomatoes(of course) and Pineapple Sage(1st time).The Pineapple sage is thriving and growing the most. I've used it fresh in a salad with the Basil and other greens and also in a Pork Rib marinade which turned out great.I combined the Pineapple Sage with Normal Rib Marinade(Tomatoes,mustard,2types vinegar etc.)and also addedPineapple preserves and let it sit for 2 days and it turned out delicious.

Zumbamama said...

I make pineapple vinegar. Take canning jar, fill it with the pineapple sage leaves or several inches cut off the tops, fill to cover with white vinegar and keep in refrigerator for about 1 month, then pour vinegar off into another jar and discard the leaves. Has a nice flavor for salads etc.

GoGoBecky said...

I love my Pineapple Sage! I most use it in my Sweet & Sour Chicken recipe. Just a couple of leaves cut very thin and put into the sauce at the end of cooking really enhances the flavor greatly. I also share any extra herbs with a local Food Pantry to help their clients learn about herbs and how to cook with them. The clients LOVE this fragrant plant!

If you don't mind, I would love to use some of these recipes (with a footnote with this blog listed of course!) on a handout for the clients. Thanks for the great ideas for me to use personally!

Tina Sams said...

If you don't mind, use please

Anonymous said...

I have a huge 1st year plant in a large pot, I will put it in my small greenhouse over winter with my other wonderful herbs, so many herbs so little thyme, LOL

Unknown said...

Do you think the pineapple sage vinegar idea would work with oil? Maybe using a good olive oil?

Tina Sams said...

It might, but I'm really not keen on culinary oils because they can quickly turn dangerous. Better to make the vinegar and blend it with the oil for a vinaigrette.

Anonymous said...

try pineapple sage shortbread cookies:
4 cups flour
1 cup organic sugar
2 cups cold butter, cut up
Mix until creamy
add 1 teaspoon vanilla and 2 cups chopped pineapple sage.Knead until incorporated.Press into a 9X15 inch pan.
Bake @ 325 for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown. Cut into squares while warm.

Unknown said...

Can't wait to try your pineapple sage recipes. Just a rub of the leaves today at the nursery had me sold on this unique herb.

Danielle Dishes said...

So helpful. I am new to the garden, but love my pineapple sage. Can't wait for the blooms.


Lemon Verbena Lady said...

Hi Tina,

I tried to dry some pineapple sage leaves with a dismal result. I would suggest using it only fresh and I will share my recipe for pineapple sage jelly which is delicious.

Makes four 8 oz. jars

1 12 oz. can of Old Orchard Pineapple Juice, frozen concentrate, reconstituted with 3 cans of water
(It makes three recipes of jelly once it is reconstituted.)
2 cups of pineapple juice
1-1/2 cups of pineapple sage leaves, packed
3-1/2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar, white wine vinegar OR lemon juice, your choice of one
1 pinch of salt
1 pouch of liquid pectin

(Jars should be sterilized in boiling water for ten minutes and lids covered with hot water in a separate pan.) Wash and dry the pineapple sage in paper towels, then coarsely chop it. Put the pineapple sage in a large saucepan, and crush the leaves, using the bottom of a glass. I use a food processor. Add the juice, bring slowly to a boil and boil for ten seconds. Remove the saucepan from the heat; cover and let sit for 15 minutes to steep.

Strain 1-1/2 cups of liquid from the saucepan and pour through a fine strainer into another saucepan. Add the one of the vinegars OR lemon juice, salt and sugar and bring to a hard boil, stirring. When the boil can't be stirred down, add the pectin. Return to a hard boil that can't be stirred down and boil for exactly 1 minute, then remove saucepan from heat.

Skim off the foam and pour the hot jelly into four hot, sterilized half-pint jelly jars. Leave 1/2" (or less) head space and seal at once with sterilized 2-piece lids. I just leave my lids in hot water not boiling until you need them. Can the jars in a boiling water bath for five minutes.

I would use this jelly on thumbprint cookies, cream cheese and crackers for a quick appetizer and a teaspoon or two as a glaze for the last 15 minutes of baking chicken or pork.