Harvesting Sage: How To Harvest and Store Garden Fresh Sage

How to harvest and store garden fresh sage

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It might sound intimidating to new gardeners, but harvesting sage is easy. In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how to harvest and store your garden fresh sage.

Sage is a staple in my herb garden. It’s easy to grow from seed, super low maintenance, and adds a great contrast of color to my garden.

In fact, there are so many gorgeous varieties of sage out there, I’ve even started mixing it into my decorative summer containers! It’s my new favorite plant.

Different types of sage growing in a container

Different types of sage growing in a mixed container

When to harvest sage

One of the things of love the most about growing fresh herbs like sage in my garden is that they can be harvested all summer long.

You can pinch off the leaves of your sage plant anytime you need to use some for cooking. So, whenever a recipe calls for sage, I can just walk out the back door and harvest as much as I need.

Common sage growing in herb garden

Common sage growing in my herb garden

Tips for harvesting sage

To harvest your sage, simply pinch off the leaves along the stem. Pinching off the leaves will encourage new growth, and give you a continuous harvest all summer long.

If you want to keep your sage plants bushy, pinch off the growth at the top rather than the leaves along the side. New leaves and stems will branch out from the spot you pinched. I like to alternate these techniques when I harvest my sage.

Pinching sage leaves for harvest

Pinching sage leaves for harvest

When cold weather arrives, you might want to harvest all of your sage. In that case, you can cut off entire branches, or harvest the whole plant at once by cutting it off at the base, or pulling it out of the ground if you prefer.

As you’re harvesting sage, select only the healthiest looking leaves to keep. Discard any leaves that are yellow or brown. Mildew isn’t usually a huge problem with sage, but it can happen. So discard those leaves too.

Mildew growing on sage leaves

Mildew growing on sage leaves

Cleaning freshly harvested sage leaves

Most of the time, I don’t bother cleaning my sage leaves because they aren’t usually dirty. But sometimes, dirt splashes up on the leaves so they need to be cleaned before I can store them.

After harvesting sage, simply rinse the leaves with water, or swoosh them around in a bowl of water for a few seconds to get the dirt off.

Be sure the sage leaves are dry after rinsing, or they can turn brown pretty quickly. I use my salad spinner (an essential tool for every gardener who grows herbs!) to spin them dry.

Cleaning sage leaves after harvesting

Cleaning sage leaves after harvesting

Storing your sage harvest

The best way to store sage for winter use is either by freezing it or drying it. Both methods are super easy.

Freezing sage leaves – Freezing your sage will help to maintain the flavor longer, and doesn’t take much time. I simply toss my fresh sage leaves into a baggie, and put them into the freezer.

If you prefer, you can flash freeze the leaves first, which will help keep them from freezing together. Simply lay the leaves out on a cookie sheet, and put them into the freezer for 10-20 minutes before storing them in a freezer safe container or baggie.

Flash freezing sage leaves

Flash freezing sage leaves

Drying  sage –  Drying sage is also a great option if you don’t have much freezer space, or you want to restock your spice rack. You can use a food dehydrator or an herb drying rack to dry sage leaves.

If you harvested whole stems or the entire plant, then you can hang it to dry instead. Once I’m done harvesting sage, and the leaves are clean and dry, I tie the stems together and simply hang the whole bundle upside down. It takes longer to dry sage this way, but it looks cute, and I can continue to harvest from it as I need to. It’s super convenient hanging right in my kitchen.

Drying fresh herbs

Drying fresh sage and parsley in my kitchen

Sage is a must for every herb garden! There’s nothing quite like harvesting sage fresh from the garden, and it’s very easy to grow. You can harvest it whenever you need it, and store some for winter use too!

More posts about growing herbs

Share your tips for harvesting sage in the comments section below.

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Harvesting Sage: How To Harvest and Store Garden Fresh Sage

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5 Responses to How to harvest and store garden fresh sage

  1. Sage is one of those forgotten herbs. Everyone seems to be growing the cilantros, basils and romsemarys but forget things like sage that can add a lot of flavor to many culinary dishes.

  2. Gail Pabst says:

    We have been using our fresh sage for sage tea this summer and look forward to using our dried sage leaves this winter as well. Thanks for the timely post.

  3. Stacy says:

    Sage is a very strong herb, and is best eaten fried. So, my go-to preservation method is Sage and Brown Butter compound butter. Fry a bunch of sage in a stick of butter, until the butter is browned and the sage is crisp. Turn off heat and allow to cool to room temperature. When cool, mix with another stick of softened butter. Freeze in logs, cut off pieces when needed.

  4. For some reason we don’t use that much sage when cooking — even though I bought some last year and planted it. I let it overwinter in the ground and it came back bigger than ever this year, setting beautiful blue flowers mid summer. I’ll likely preserve some for the winter the same way as I preserve basil — chop it up and freeze it (with water) in ice cube trays. Then, when a stew or soup wants some I can just pull it from the freezer and pop into the pot.

  5. Brenda says:

    I dry herbs by putting the leaves in a brown paper lunch sack. Fill the bag at most 1/3 full – don’t pack them in. I fold over the top to close and use a binder clip to hold it shut. The loopy part of the clip can be hung on a hook (e.g. from the ceiling) and the herbs can dry without getting dusty. Usually, I shake the bag a little every couple days for even drying. In a couple weeks, I bring them down and store in jars or plastic bags.

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