12 Creative Ways to Preserve Sage

updated Jul 16, 2020
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(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

Sage is an intensely aromatic herb, and unlike its tender cousins — basil and parsley — its leaves are sturdy and resinous. Because of sage’s powerful aroma and oily texture, a little goes long way, flavor-wise. The preserving possibilities are numerous, so we get to be creative with this potent perennial.

1. Make sage honey.

Infuse honey with dried sage leaves to add flavor to hot or iced tea, sweeten baked goods, add to a citrus-y marinade, or serve on a cheese plate.

2. Add sage to compound butter.

Chop up 1/4 cup of fresh sage leaves and blend it with one stick of room-temperature butter. Top freshly baked blueberry muffins or incorporate with your stuffing or dressing at Thanksgiving.

Recipe: Herb Butter

3. Dry it yourself.

Hang bundles of sage to dry in an out-of-the-way spot, away from direct sunlight. You may also use a dehydrator on the lowest setting (it will be ready in about a day), or just dry in the oven on the lowest possible setting until evenly crisp.

Here’s another way to do it: How To Dry Herbs In The Microwave

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

4. Infuse salt with sage flavor.

Making sage salt is easy and ups your everyday cooking. Adding it to, say, a rub for pork chops is ingenious, and you don’t have to run out last minute — in the middle of making dinner — to buy fresh sage in order capture that fresh flavor. Sage salts generally last for about a year and are stellar lightly tossed over popcorn, sprinkled on roasted vegetables, or rimmed on a cocktail glass.

5. Add sage to vinegar.

Sage vinegar is ace in dressings and marinades. I add a few sprigs to about eight ounces of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, place the bottle in a sunny window for two weeks, and then find a good excuse to make sage-marinated grilled chicken.

6. Make sage maple syrup for more than just pancakes.

Herb-infused simple syrups are great drink sweeteners, but what about infusing maple syrup with herbs for savory-style pancakes and waffles? Just slowly warm up maple syrup, add a few torn sage leaves, and let the mixture steep until the flavor reaches your desired intensity.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

7. Freeze chopped sage for future use.

Add one tablespoon freshly chopped sage to ice cube trays and fill with water. Add directly to hearty winter soups and stews or pot roast, or if a recipe calls for fresh sage, simply place the ice cubes in a fine-mesh strainer and let the water melt away.

8. Turn sage into bitters for better cocktails.

Combine fresh sage with other aromatic agents (like ginger or peppercorn), various “bittering” agents (like burdock root, citrus peel, or mugwort), and the highest-proof liquor you can get your hands on. Bitters provide a concentrated dose of the herb, and bitters are great for bringing balance to a cocktail or adding a punch of flavor to sparkling water or tea.

9. Preserve fresh sage in oil.

Preserve freshly picked sage in extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle over grilled vegetables, savory salads, or charcuterie.

(Image credit: Jayme Henderson)

10. Vacuum-seal sage to save it.

Vacuum-sealing sage for freezing is a no-fail means to preserve as much freshness, color, and flavor as possible. If you don’t have the equipment, don’t worry — the “straw hack” has saved me on more than one occasion.

11. Make sweet, sweet sage sugar.

Take seven to eight sage leaves, muddle them until well-bruised (breaking the leaves apart), and blend with a cup of cane sugar. Cover and stir the mixture daily for two weeks. Use to flavor teas, jellies, and baked goods. (Or use this method for Vanilla Sugar.)

12. Blend up a batch of sage pesto.

Finely chopped sage marries perfectly with a little Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, toasted nuts, and parsley for a zesty, potent summer pesto. Think roasted vegetable pasta. I like to take any leftover pesto and freeze it in an ice cube tray for my next culinary adventure.

Surely, I didn’t cover all of the possibilities for preserving sage. What other tips or means of preserving do you have to share?