Want to learn how to preserve sage naturally? In this tutorial, you’ll discover the easy way to dry sage for winter and add some country charm to your kitchen in the process!
One of the things I look forward to at the end of gardening season is the final harvest of fresh herbs that I’ve grown. Some herbs need to be gathered throughout the spring and summer months, but there’s always a few that can be left until the last minute.
Nearly every year, I leave it in the garden until the first frost of fall is nearly upon us. And then, I go out with a pair of pruning shears and gather up bunches to hang dry on my “herb shelf” in the kitchen.
Most of the time, I don’t dry my herbs in a dehydrator. Not only does it limit you to small batches, but it’s very easy to overdo your herbs and lose some of the flavor.
So instead, I air dry my herbs by forming pretty bundles that can hang in my kitchen until I get around to stripping the leaves and stuffing my spice jars.
Here’s the easy way to dry sage for winter.
Things You’ll Probably Need
- pruning shears
- a basket for collecting sage
- cotton cooking twine
- a dry place to hang dry your herbs
If you have fresh sage in your garden or can buy some from a local gardener, you probably have everything you need on hand already. In fact, drying sage in the manner I’m going to show you is so easy, I almost feel funny giving you a tutorial on how to do it!
Tip 1: Harvest sage before the morning sun warms the leaves. For maximum flavor, harvest sage before 10 in the morning before the sun evaporates natural oils in the leaves.
Tip 2: Use pruning shears to harvest your sage. The stems on an establishing sage plant are woody and tough, so skip the kitchen scissors and use a pair of pruning shears instead.
Tip 3: You can use any type of ribbon, string or twine to bind your sage. In this tutorial, I use cooking twine to bind and hang my sage, but you can use jute twine, yarn or even embroidery thread.
Tip 4: Hang your herbs in a dry place in the kitchen. When trying to naturally dry sage, don’t hang it over the kitchen stove or by the kitchen sink. Choose dry places where steam and moisture can’t reach your bundle.
Easy Way to Dry Sage for Winter
I love this method of drying sage because it’s fast and looks beautiful in the kitchen. It’s also handy because your sage can just hang there until you have time to separate the leaves from the stalks and stems. Which for me, is usually after the garden is done and winter is well upon us!
Here’s an easy way to dry sage for winter.
Step 1: Harvest 16-20 sage stems, being sure to take healthy looking stalks that are at least 12 inches long with lots of green foliage on top.
Step 2: Bring your sage indoors and strip leaves from the lower 8 inches of stem, being sure to remove any faded or yellowing leaves.
Step 3: Divide sage into 3-4 groups with approximately 5 stalks in each grouping.
Step 4: Lay one group out flat on your working surface. Take the next group lay it on top of the first, setting it back about 5-6 inches to create staggered look. Tie the two groups together with cooking twine. Repeat for the next 2 bundles of sage.
Step 5: Cut an extra long piece of cooking twine and wrap it around the last bundle several times, just above the sage leaves. Create a loop on the back side.
Step 6: Trim stems just above your cooking twine for an even look and hang to air dry away from moisture and wetness.
I have a small shelf with black cast iron hooks in my kitchen where I like to do this with sage, oregano and many other types of fresh herbs.
FAQ on how to dry sage
How long does sage take to dry?
When you’re air drying sage, the length of time varies based on the humidity and temperature of your home. In my kitchen, I usually leave my sage for 2 months before I get around to dealing with it, and things are well-dried out by that time!
If you use the bundling method I showed you, I’d recommend leaving it for at least 3 weeks.
How do I know when my sage is fully dry?
There’s a simple test you can run to determine whether or not your sage is ready to be put into spice jars! If the leaves (and leaf stems) are dry to the touch and break apart when squeezed in your hand, they’re ready. And you can jar them up without worrying about spoilage or mold.
How long does dry sage keep?
Dry sage will keep for several years when stored in a dry, cool place, but it will start losing it’s potency after about a year.
If you really want to preserve the flavor of your dry sage, store it in a mason jar in the freezer. It’s one of my favorite ways to maintain potency with my home dried herbs!
How to store dry sage?
When stored in an airtight container (such as a bag, mason jar or spice jar), sage leaves will keep at room temperature for 1-2 years. However, they do start losing their potency after the first year.
I don’t know about you, but potent herbs are the backbone to my home cooking! And so, I like to take extra care in preserving their flavor. So I keep the bulk of my dry herbs in the freezer in an airtight container, where they’ll maintain full flavor for 3-5 years or more. I fill my spice jars by the kitchen stove as needed.
Here’s how it works.
- Harvest fresh herbs
- Hang in the kitchen until dry
- Sort and strip leaves from stems
- Pack leaves into a mason jar
- Seal with a canning lid and band
- Label and store in the freezer
- Remove small portions of the herb as needed for your spice jars in the kitchen
Is home grown sage stronger than store bought dry sage?
Sage you grow and dry yourself is much stronger than the dry sage you’ll find in the herb and spice section at your local grocery store!
When you add your sage to savory home cooked dishes, keep this in mind and use about half the amount you’re accustomed to, until you find ratios you’re happy with.
How much dry sage is equal to fresh sage?
As with most herbs, you use less sage when it’s in dry form. In general, 1 tablespoon of fresh minced sage is equal to about 1/2-1 teaspoon of crumbled or rubbed dry sage.