Sage is a favourite plant, a perfect pairing for rich flavoured meat like pork and adds lots of flavour to potato dishes and bread stuffings. I thought it would be useful to write about how to dry sage leaves so you can keep using them through the winter, rather than buying those tiny packs from the supermarket.
To dry the sage you’ll need:
- paper bags
then all you have to do is:
- pick the stems in the morning, choose a dry day when any dew has dried
- gently shake the stems to let any little insects escape and remove dead or discoloured leaves
- remove lower leaves and tie 4-5 stems together
- make a hole in a paper bag and poke the stems through the end of the bag, the paper keeps the herbs dust-free while they dry
Simply hang the herbs upside down in a warmish, dry room. Check them every 2-3 days and after about two weeks they should be thoroughly dried, if they’re not properly dry they’ll go mouldy when you store them, so it’s worth being patient.
Keep the leaves whole if possible and crumble them as you use them, they seem to keep their flavour better.
I keep mine in a glass jar labelled with the name and date, they keep for up to a year.
A teaspoon of dried herbs is equivalent to about one tablespoon of fresh.
How to grow sage:
1m wide x 80cm high.
Plant it in a sunny part of the garden in gritty well-drained soil. It likes a Mediterranean climate, so try and fool it as much as you can into thinking it’s in the south of France.
It needs a good shearing in spring to encourage those soft, felty new leaves to replace the leathery overwintered ones, at the same time mine is clipped into a hummocky, dome shape that’s easy on the eye.