Wild Brew: White Sage and Lime Cider
This recipe for white sage and lime cider is adapted from Pascal Baudar’s The New Wildcrafted Cuisine.
This recipe uses one of the most iconic plants of Southern California to make one of my favorite wild plant brews. The cider tastes clean and refreshing with light sage notes. The season, area where the sage was harvested and length and temperature of fermentation all affect this brew’s taste and alcohol level. Some of my best batches have popped and sizzled when opened and been great summer drinks.
White Sage (Salvia apiana) grows in the coastal sage scrub habitat of Southern California and Baja California.
Native people of the Pacific Coast have long recognized the spiritual properties of white sage. They would typically use the plant by drying its leaves and bundling them creating a smudge stick. Next, the smudge stick would be burned with the smoke directed into areas to be cleared of spirits and protected. This practice has been appropriated by people who buy smudge sticks in overpriced boutiques. These people usually have no connection with the native cultures who originated this practice.
Harvesting White Sage
Always harvest white sage from an area that has not been exposed to excessive pollution or industrial runoff. In addition, do not take more than a few leaves from any one plant. Check the Edible Wild Food website for more advice on responsible harvesting.
Recipe for White Sage and Lime Cider
- 1 gallon springwater or distilled water
- 0.15 ounce dried white sage leaves (about 15 leaves)
- 1 ¼ pounds light brown sugar
- 3 limes
- Beer Yeast
- Mix the water, sage and brown sugar in a large pot. Cut and squeeze the limes into the pot. Bring the solution to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Cool the pot quickly by placing it into a sink filled with ice water. Do not let the sink water enter your pot. Place a lid over the pot to protect it from bacteria.
- When an instant read thermometer reads 70°F, add about half a bag of beer yeast (note some yeast should be mixed with water first, follow direction on packet).
- Strain the brew through a fine mesh sieve into a gallon jug. Cover the jug with an airlock or cheesecloth.
- Place the jug in a warm place for 10 days (you will know it is fermenting by the bubbles rising to the top of the brew).
- Siphon into swing top bottles and prime the bottles with ½ teaspoon of brown or white sugar for carbonation. Close the bottles and store somewhere at room temperature. The cider will be ready to drink in 3 to 4 weeks. Leaving it for 7 to 8 weeks will allow for more carbonation and a more refined taste.
*Note: sterilize all equipment before brewing.
If you don’t live where white sage grows naturally you can grow it from seed purchased here.
Have you tried the recipe? Let us know about it in the comments below.