What is Sage?
Sage is a herb originating from the Mediterranean that has been popularly used in cooking for hundreds of years. It has a bitter but still subtly sweet taste that could be described as a pine-like. Sage has a similar aroma to eucalyptus with hints of citrus that have made it very popular for drying. Like all herbs, it can be used fresh, ground-up or dried. And sage, like all herbs, is much better when used fresh. Sage is most commonly used in stuffings, butter, or sauces. It is also very prevalent in Italian dishes, such as risotto.
How to prepare it for drying?
To prepare sage for drying, you need to first pull all the leaves from the stalk, to do this you want to pull the leaves down towards the bottom of the stalk and they should tear away. Otherwise, you may find the leaves tear when you pull. You don’t want to waste any of those lovely leaves.
Next, you should remove any torn, bruised, and wilting leaves. Make sure you check every leaf of sage is healthy before you start the drying process or you may find your Sage comes out tasting slightly odd or overly bitter. When checking the leaves, it’s important to also have a quick look for signs of insects. Whatever insects you find can be washed away. However, any leaves covered in webbing or specs of black/white could contain eggs and should not be eaten.
How can you dry Sage?
Perhaps the easiest way to dry your sage is to simply use a food dehydrator. The optimal temperature for drying sage is somewhere between 35 and 45 degrees Celsius. Lower temperatures will take far too long and higher you may accidentally cook the sage. Sage should be in the dehydrator for anywhere between 1-4 hours, check them every 30-40 minutes to make sure they’re doing okay.
If you don’t have a food dehydrator, you can dry them naturally by storing them in a ventilated paper bang and hanging them out of direct sunlight for 7-10 days. Make sure you dry them indoors or they may become damaged by rain or insects.
You could also dry your leaves in the oven, though you do run the risk of burning them. Lay them on a baking sheet and bake them at 80 degrees F for 30 minutes, then turn them. They should be in the oven for absolutely no more than one hour.
After you have finished the drying process for your sage, you should keep them stored in a dry cool place. The best storage container for sage is an airtight sealed glass jar. This helps keep them fresh and great tasting for as long as possible. Once you have dried your Sage, it should be good to eat from anywhere between 1 and 3 years. This is largely why drying sage has been popular for so long, it has such a long shelf life.
I hope this article answered any questions you may have had, best of luck with the Sage drying!