Sage is one of the most potent medicinal herbs. The world’s cultures know its positive effects on memory and brain activity.
For that reason, to find an herb garden that doesn’t contain sage is very odd.
That said, many herb gardeners concentrate their efforts on growing sage. Unfortunately, they forget the importance of storing it well.
You can easily end up with bland sage leaves if you don’t pay enough attention to the secrets behind storing the herbs.
How do you store fresh sage without losing its flavor and benefits? Learn the secrets in this guide.
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Short-Term Storage: Refrigerate
The best way to enjoy fresh sage leaves for a short period is by storing them in the refrigerator.
To do that, immerse the sage stems in a cup of water. Cover the leaves and the container with a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator. They’ll remain fresh for one week before they start losing their flavor and color.
You can also refrigerate your sage in plastic bags after you wrap them in paper towels.
There are two main methods of storing sage for the long term. First, you should know that sage is best consumed fresh.
Consuming fresh leaves doesn’t only mean that you’re getting the best flavor out of the sage. It also means you’re enjoying this herb’s health benefits.
But sometimes, you may end up with a significant number of sage leaves you can’t consume within a few days, and it would be best if you store them properly.
Dried vs. Frozen
We use two main methods to store sage for a long time: drying and freezing.
As with any other issue concerning herbs, cooks and herbalists disagree on which way is better.
In general, drying sage is a better solution for the long term. It gives you more time to decide how you want to make use of the harvested leaves.
Sage has such a robust and invasive aroma. So much so, some professional chefs feel they need to tame the fresh sage. For that reason, they prefer drying the herb over freezing it.
Others fear that freezing sage leaves may darken their color. That could make them look unappealing in dishes.
But, the process of freezing inactivates many biochemical reactions that occur in the leaves. Doing this can preserve the nutrients found in sage more effectively.
Freezing leaves rather than drying them is a much better way to conserve their flavor and oils.
To decide between the two methods, you might want to determine why you’re storing sage.
For instance, I prefer to use fresh leaves to prepare tea, while I use dried ones for cooking.
Try both methods first, and then you can decide for yourself which one is better. In the end, it all depends on your taste buds.
How To Store Fresh Sage For The Long-term
There are a few simple tricks that can be used to dry and freeze sage:
Drying herbs is an ancient method of storage and preservation. It’s common in many cultures around the world.
Today, there are several ways to dry your herbs, and sage works fine with any of them. Here are two methods I prefer:
- The traditional method:
You can start drying your sage by finding a dark place in your house. Direct sunlight should be completely blocked from reaching your leaves.
Sage also requires a relatively high temperature to dry faster. Somewhere between 82°F (27.7°C) and 86°F (30°C) would be ideal. That’s why an attic can work well in this case.
You should maintain low humidity around your leaves. An AC or dehumidifier will be necessary if you live in a humid climate.
Finally, you need to keep the air circulating in the space where the leaves are drying. Moderate ventilation or a small fan will do the job.
The process takes about 14 to 20 days.
You can use a dehydrator to speed up the process of drying. People use this machine for drying fruits and making bacon, but more recently, many herbalists are using it to dry herbs quickly. (You can find affordable dehydrators on Amazon.)
In most cases, the process of drying sage in a dehydrator takes about one to four hours.
Always check the stems. If they break without much effort, you have dried sage ready to be used.
Dried sage usually lasts for two to three years.
Freezing herbs is a simple and effective way of preserving your sage leaves. By freezing, you’ll be able to hold onto the leaves’ flavor and components. You need to learn some tricks before moving forward.
Optional: Blanch Before Freezing
There’s an ongoing dispute in the world of culinary and medicinal herbs over what we call “blanching.”
Blanching is a process by which you immerse in boiling water for a few seconds. Immediately freeze them when you pull the leaves out.
This method prevents the leaves from getting darker over time in the freezer. Its effect on flavor, though, is debatable.
Some assert that blanching can improve the flavor of some herbs. Others believe the opposite happens.
As for myself, I’ve never tried blanching sage leaves. I do usually blanch my basil leaves because they become a total black mess if I don’t.
So, I leave it to you to decide whether or not you want to blanch your sage leaves.
Freezing Sage Leaves
Start by gently washing your sage leaves and drying them afterward. Put them on a tray and let them freeze for a few hours in the freezer.
Divide your leaves into portions. Make the bags small enough that you will use the whole bag. Transfer each lot into a plastic or eco-friendly freezing bag. Put them in the freezer again.
As such, frozen sage leaves can last no more than eight months.
- Sage Cubes
Another method for freezing your sage is to put the leaves in an ice cube tray. Pour hot or warm water over them and transfer the trays to the freezer.
You can also make sage butter by simply pouring melted butter over the leaves instead of water.
I usually toss some sage cubes in my pot when I’m aiming for an earthy flavor in my dish.
The Final Word: Grow And Experiment
Now that you have learned the best ways to store your fresh sage, it’s time to execute.
Start by using a small number of sage leaves to try each method.
More than anything, grow your sage at home. That way you know you’re consuming the healthiest and freshest leaves available.