Sunday, October 10, 2010

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme

by Marcy Lautanen-Raleigh

I few days ago I stopped by a blog of a fellow herb person and the blog played the song “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” by Simon and Garfunkel.  I took the time to look the song up and discovered the album it was on (which I own – does that date me?) was released on October 10, 1966.

In honor of that anniversary here is a small tribute to these four wonderful herbs.


Petroselinum crispum is from the Greek who associated this herb with death and funerals.  As far back as Pliny the elder, the herb was used for cooking and has become a staple in sauces, salad dressings, and as a garnish.  The freshening aspect makes its use as a garnish not only decorative, but also a way to chase away “food breath” after a meal.

There are many superstitions about Parsley.  If in love one should never pick it, transplant it, or give it away as this foretold disaster.  It is slow to germinate which lead to the phase Parsley goes to the devil and back seven times and should be sown on Good Friday to out wit him.

Parsley is rich in Vitamin A and C and acts as an antioxidant.  It contains flavinoids, known to help keep cancer at bay, and apigenin, which is an anti-allergen.  It is also supposed to be good for urinary track infections and kidney ailments.


Sage’s name Salvia officinalis comes from the Latin to save or heal and this herb has always been associated with good health and long life, in some cases immortality.  In the 1700s several stories were told of people living very long lives due to the daily intake of sage.

It is a highly aromatic evergreen shrub that will grow in many colors, but almost none but the main species are truly hardy. 

Sage makes a good astringent, antiseptic and antibacterial.  It can be used as a compress on wounds and taken as tea for issues of the mouth and throat.  It is the perfect accompaniment to sausage, cheese and fatty meats.  You can make a rinse of sage leaves for dark hair that is also said to help control dandruff.


The Latin name of rosemary, Rosmarinus, means dew of the sea, which it gained from its coastal habitat.  A lover of humidity, but well drained soil, the rocky coast lines are a perfect breeding ground for this old herb.  It gained an early reputation for improving memory and uplifting spirits and in the language of flowers became known as the herb of remembrance.

It is used frequently in wedding bouquets and at funerals because of its meaning and in Spanish folklore is believed to give protection from the evil eye.  It is said to be the herb which sheltered the Virgin Mary on her flight to Egypt.

Another evergreen shrub, this plant will not winter over in any non-tropical climate and struggles to live indoors due to the lack of humidity in winter.  It is a classic flavoring for stews and casseroles, as well as marinades, vinegar, and dressings.  It is another dandruff treatment when used as a rinse and can be used as an insect repellant.


To the Greeks thyme was a symbol of courage.  To the Romans a cure for melancholy.  To tell someone they smelled of thyme was a great compliment in ancient Greece.  The ancients used it to cure many an illness and today we know that its antiseptic and antibacterial qualities are very useful.

There are more than 350 different specifies of Thymus and countless cultivars and hybrids.  Thymus vulgaris (common) and thymus x citriodorus (lemon thyme) are the most commonly grown and are great for cooking and scent.  They like a sunny location and can grow in rocky or gritty soil, but not all strains can winter over in cooler climates.  Shelter them and they will do much better in the north.

Thyme is perfect in marinades, soups, stews, and casseroles as well as a tea taken for coughs, colds and chest infections.  Recent research states that thymol (oil of thyme) is useful in slowing the deterioration of the body due to aging.

Parsley, Sage and Rosemary are all said to thrive in the home of a woman who is in charge, so I say grow as much of each of them as you can and stay mistress of your household!

Herb Blends using Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme:
I actually make a tea with these four herbs in it; I call it S&G blend because “Simon and Garfunkel” is copywrited.  The blend is Sage and Thyme with a bit of Rosemary and a hint of Parsley.  The parsley is there mostly to enhance the flavor of the other herbs.  This tea has many medicinal qualities and very savory flavor.  To see all of our hand blended herbal teas, check out my website or this direct link to our teas for sale.

Four Herb Blend

Since all four herbs are perfect to cook with, you can made the following blend and use it as a dressing, marinade or meat rub.

3 parts parsley
2 parts sage
2 parts thyme
1 part rosemary

To make a dressing add 1 to 2 Tbls. To 2/3 cup oil and 1/3 cup vinegar.
To make a marinade use 1 to 3 Tbls in a half and half blend of oil and vinegar or lemon juice.
To use as a rub, use dry and spread over all sides of meat or poultry before baking or grilling.

Hope you enjoyed this small celebration in honor of Parsley, Sage, Rosmary and Thyme.  Please visit us again.

1 comment:

  1. Parsley is a precious herb. You have done remarkable job here. I have got many valuable things about Parsley.


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