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When the sage harvest is approaching from May to the end of August, there are large quantities of sage leaves that need to be dried and stored. So that you don't lose a bit of the valuable aroma, there are different ways of drying, which make the tea or the finished spice all the more digestible. The methods are effective for preserving salvia and thereby making the leaves durable for up to two years.


Of course, before you can start drying, you first need the sage leaves, which you can harvest again and again in the period mentioned above. If you want extra flavorful sage, you should harvest just before flowering in June, when most of the essential oils are found in the leaves. The intensity of the aroma already decreases during flowering, even if leaves are still being extensively expelled. After you have harvested the sage plants, prepare them as follows:

  • check the leaves for white spots
  • discard these as this is a powdery mildew infection
  • shake out the leaves thoroughly
  • to remove dust, dirt and other foreign matter
  • do not wash the sage, washing will affect drying

Be sure to process and not wash the leaves immediately after harvesting. The longer you wait to dry, the more flavor the leaves will lose and this will negatively affect the end result. Your sage tea in particular would only taste faintly of the herb if you waited too long, which is undesirable. You have four options for preserving the leaves:

  • in the air
  • in the oven
  • in the dehydrator
  • in the microwave

Tip: If you want to increase your crop yield, you should remove the bud sites before flowering in June. This allows the plant to focus entirely on the formation of fresh, herbaceous shoots.

air drying

One of the best ways to provide you with dried leaves for your sage tea is air drying. As the name suggests, the sage leaves are air dried to tease the full flavor potential out of the leaves. Alongside ice, air is one of the oldest preservatives and is therefore extremely suitable for sage. Depending on the amount, space and whether you use whole shoots or just leaves, there are two different approaches to processing the fresh leaves, which are carried out as follows:

1. If you have whole shoots, tie them together with thread or raffia in the lowest area. This gives you several bundles or small bouquets that you can easily hang upside down. Store the bundles in a dark place protected from rain and moisture, such as the garden shed. Keep tightening the tie over time as the dried sage loses substance.

2. Loose sage leaves, on the other hand, are laid out to dry. Newspaper or a gauze frame are suitable for this, on which you spread the sheets. These are also stored in a dark and dry place. Be even more careful here that accidental gusts of wind don't blow the leaves away.

Air drying takes between eight and 14 days for the herbs to dry. You can recognize dried sage by the fact that it crumbles easily as soon as it is touched. In addition, a rustling can always be heard as soon as the tufts are transported. When processing the dried individual leaves, make sure not to crumble them in your hands. To do this, simply transfer the leaves to the containers for storage.

Use the oven

The oven is quite good for drying the sage quickly and effectively. Compared to air drying, the oven has the advantage that more aroma is retained in the leaves and the sage is completely dried after a period of six to eight hours. So you don't have to wait two weeks before you can enjoy your sage as a tea. Proceed as follows:

  • prepare one or more baking sheets with parchment paper
  • spread out the leaves and shoots on them for preservation
  • make sure that the individual leaves and shoots do not touch
  • Preheat the oven to 40°C fan oven
  • place the trays in the oven
  • don't close the door all the way, use a wooden spoon, cork, or piece of wood to keep the door from banging shut
  • turn the leaves and shoots every 30 minutes
  • After six to eight hours turn off the oven and let it cool down
  • do not close the door, otherwise condensation will form
  • never decant the leaves while they are still warm, because here, too, condensation will form in the glass, which will cause them to rot

Notice: Despite the efficiency of the oven, this process consumes a lot of energy. Therefore, this variant is not necessarily environmentally friendly.

Use the dehydrator to help

As an alternative to the oven, you can use a dehydrator. This is specially designed for such projects and easy to use. Depending on the size of the dehydrator, between five and 20 sieve trays are available on which to distribute the sage. Fill each tray up to 90 percent full to avoid overfilling while drying. Set the dehydrator to a suitable level (instruction manual) and let the leaves dry for eight to ten hours. After this time, the dried leaves should still have a green hue and be somewhat flexible, since the liquid is gently drawn out of the leaves with this variant.

Notice: Never dry other herbs while you have the sage in the dehydrator. That would lead to an unpleasant mix of different flavors.

For those in a hurry: the microwave

Drying in the microwave is a particularly quick option. To do this, simply place an appropriate amount of leaves in a microwave-safe container and place it in the appliance. Make sure that the individual sheets are not stacked on top of each other, otherwise you will have to turn them every 15 seconds. The kitchen appliance is set to a power of 200 watts and left in the microwave for ten seconds. Then check how dry the leaves are. Depending on the quantity, this process can take longer.

Notice: A disadvantage of this method is the loss of valuable essential oils, which are destroyed when drying in the microwave. This is very quickly noticeable in your tea, as the sage tea only has a few aromas and the dried herbs are better suited for smoking or for decoration in dry arrangements.

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