Spikes of blue sage blossoms take center stage in the late spring garden, glowingly framed by sage’s soft gray-green foliage. Sage flowers are as edible as the leaves, though I had to do some out-on-the-deck research to discover the details. For example, each tubular blue blossom is held by a papery bract. Do you eat the bract and the blossom? And what about the gossamer little stamens, or the bases of the petals, which sometimes taste bitter in other edible flowers?
To some extent, how you groom sage flowers depends on what you want to do with them. The most deliciously decadent way to eat sage blossoms is to dip them in a batter and fry until crispy, in which case leaving the bracts intact gives the little morsels much-needed structure. But the bracts taste pretty strong raw, so I suggest pinching them off when preparing sage blossoms for salads, cheese or butter spreads, or general garnishing. Hold the upper hood and lower lip of a blossom closed with one hand, and pinch off the bract and base with the other. Your fingers will smell of sage for hours.
I practiced with well-rinsed branches, so the groomed blossoms could go straight into the fridge (chilling quickly perks up floppy petals). Make no mistake: sage flowers are a big color, big flavor ingredient when eaten raw. They pack a warming punch that lingers on the palate, so expect much more than a pretty plate. Speaking of plate, pairing blue sage blossoms with orange foods like oranges, carrots, or winter squash is always creates memorable special effects.
The red blossoms of pineapple sage are edible, too, and quite popular for tossing into pound cake or cornbread. In either blue or red, sage flowers are ultra-cool floated into little jars of sage jelly.