Summer Sage – How To Dry Herbs


Does it seem too early to think about roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving? (My local craft store doesn’t think so. August has barely arrived, and they’ve got holiday decorations out—but I’m getting off track.)

I started thinking about turkeys today when I went to water my herbs. The sage was ready to pick, so I snipped a big handful of stems and brought them inside to save. The leaves are so fragrant, and they’ll be delicious in my dressing recipe.

It’s easy to save sage and other summer herbs. Just pick from your plants early in the day, if possible, and bring the stems in to sort. Discard any bad leaves, and rinse them thoroughly under running water.

Next, let the herbs air-dry on paper towels. When they’re dry, tie them into small bundles, letting the leaves face in different directions. This will help with air circulation while they’re drying.

Make slits in the sides of small, brown paper bags, and slip one bag over each bundle of herbs. Hang the bags upside down in a warm, dry place. They’ll keep dust off the leaves, and prevent sunlight from bleaching the colors.

Check the bags every few days, to be sure the sage is getting enough air flow to prevent mildew or fungus. The leaves should be nice and dry in about two weeks. Take them out of the bags, and crumble them over a sheet of wax paper. Toss the stems, and pour the crumbled leaves into an airtight container.

Store it as you would store any spice jar, in a dark, dry cabinet or in your freezer.

Be a little conservative when you use dried sage. Unlike other herbs, it retains much of its flavor, so you probably won’t need to use quite as much as usual.

Hope you didn’t cut your sage plants to the ground. They’ll keep producing leaves, so you can keep harvesting into early fall.