From smudging and essential oils to culinary uses, sage is one of the most popular and widely used herbs in the world. With the many different types and varieties to buy or grow, being able to dry it yourself is such a benefit for sage lovers. The good news is anyone can dry sage at home using any one of these four methods. But first, let’s cover the prep needed before any drying of herbs happens.
Before drying sage:
You should first carefully remove the sages leaves from the stalk, pulling each leaf gently until separated. After removing the stalks, look over each leaf for blight, wilting or dying sections, insects, webs, and eggs. Discard any leaves you find that have any sign of those conditions. Finally, place the sage leaves in a colander or food strainer and run those leaves under cool water for a few minutes. When they are all rinsed, shake off as much water as possible and set on a cloth (like a clean kitchen towel) or paper towel to evaporate the rest.
Method 1: Air or Hang Drying
This is one of the easiest ways as it takes so little equipment or even space to do. The only downside is how much longer it takes to dry sage leaves as this method can take up to ten days or sometimes longer. There is also the complication if your space is humid- you run the risk of your leaves molding.
The first of three steps to hang drying sage is to tie some bundles of leaves together. Any string or cord will do, though I recommend something more natural made ( such as hemp cords used for gardening or thin cotton string). Shoot for about 5-10 leaves a bundle.
Next, cover the bundles in a paper bag- but not too tightly, we want as much moisture as possible to escape the leaves. Each bag should be well ventilated to allow a good amount of air through. As much as it might be tempting, never use plastic as it traps moisture.
Finally, hang each covered bundle facing downwards out of direct sunlight.
The dried sage leaves are dry when they can easily crumble in your hand.
Method 2: Microwave
This isn’t my favorite method, but if you are in a time crunch or have limited space, this might be a good method for you. All together, this should take you about 5-10 minutes.
The first step is to arrange the leaves in a single non-touching layer on a microwave safe plate. Next, (regardless of the strength of your microwave) microwave the leaves for thirty-second intervals, flipping between each session. Keep checking the leaves until they can easily crumble in your hand.
Method 3: Oven
This is one of my most used ways to dry sage- though be warned as it can really heat up your kitchen. This should take about an hour to dry them completely.
Start by taking an oven-safe tray or baking sheet and lay down some muslin or two layers of cheesecloth. Arrange a single layer of leaves over the tray so they are not touching and there is a bit of space (maybe not even a quarter inch or a centimeter) between each leaf. Then you set your oven to the lowest setting it will go and put the sheet into the oven. But don’t close the oven door completely- we want the moisture to escape and not be trapped in the oven. When a half-hour is up, flip the leaves and put them in for another half hour. By this time your leaves should be nice and crumbly!
Method 4: Food Dehydrator
If you have a food dehydrator, this is the best way to dry your sage. A good food dehydrator is one of the best tools there is for drying herbs out there- especially the particularly fleshy herbs like basil and sage. With a food dehydrator, it will take about four hours to dry the sage leaves.
The first step is to make sure your racks are clean and dry before placing the leaves in a single layer and not overlapping. Lots of food dehydrators have settings that are very different- I have two, and one has only a timer while the other allows me to set the temperature and time. But fear not! For herbs, any dehydrator works. The lower settings (or if yours doesn’t have temperature settings) is around the range of 95 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the perfect range for drying sage in a dehydrator. If your dehydrator does not get that high in temperature, you will have to dry the sage for a longer period of time. All you do is set your dehydrator up and check back each hour until the leaves can easily crumble in your hands.
After all that hard work of drying your sage, what should you keep it in and where? You’ll need to store your leaves in an air-tight container that is clean and dry. These containers should be kept out of direct sunlight- the most preferable place being in a dark and cool cupboard or cabinet. It’s that simple. Make sure to check the containers every so often for signs of mold and dump any that have mold. The sage herbs dried should be good for about a year; after that, it will lose its potency. It is a good idea to mark the date of when you first put the dry sage into the container to make sure your stores are always fresh.
While drying sage is easy with these methods, keep in mind you can dry other herbs using the same techniques. Try it with basil, parsley, mint, oregano, thyme, and many many more. Things like lavender and rosemary can be dried using these methods too- but just keep in mind their drying times will not be the same so play around with it. Do you dry herbs regularly? Try each of the methods listed above to get a feel for what works best for you and your uses!