The most natural and oldest form of preservation, drying turns almost anything organic to dust -- which is a good thing for fresh sage and your spice rack. Woodsy and fragrant, sage has an esteemed reputation around food, especially pork and poultry. Sage grows year-round, but if you pick the leaves just before the flowers open, and right after the dew evaporates in the late morning, you reap the maximum amount of volatile oils this boisterous beauty has to bear. Preserve the harvest by removing the moisture that reduces its pungency and you'll lock in the essence until needed.
Slow and Easy
Rinse the sage and shake off excess water. Lay the leaves out on paper towels, spacing them about 1/2 inch from each other. Let the herbs sit until the surface moisture evaporates.
Bundle the leaves into groups of 8 to 10, depending on their width. Make each bundle approximately the same size.
Tie the stems of each bundle together using kitchen twine, leaving a 1- to 2-foot tail hanging off. Tie the bundles in a 70- to 80-degree Fahrenheit room. You can hang the sage outside if you don't place them in direct sunlight or where they'll collect moisture. Dry the sage for 2 to 4 weeks, depending on humidity levels.
Check the sage by gently bending a leaf; it's ready when a leaf crumples or cracks off the stem effortlessly. Store dried sage in an airtight container.
Quick and Easier
Set the oven to warm.
Rinse the sage and shake off the excess water. Lay the leaves out on paper towels, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Let the herbs sit until the surface moisture evaporates.
Arrange the leaves 1/2 inch apart on an oven rack and place them in the oven. You can use as many racks as you have space if you don't overcrowd the oven.
Wedge a folded pot holder or towel in the door to create a 1-inch gap. Dry the sage for 2 to 3 hours, or until the leaves crumble easily.