Learn how to harvest sage with out killing it

Sage is a wonderful culinary herb and gives meat and vegetable dishes a delicious taste. It's easy to grow sage yourself at home, in the garden, or even on a sunny windowsill. For anyone who is already growing or planning to start growing sage, here are some useful tips on harvesting sage to optimize the use, storage, and the healthy and productive appearance of your sage plants.

The botanical name for sage is Salvia officinalis, "officinalis" refers to the plant sage as a medicinal herb and "Salvia" is derived from the Latin "salvere", which means to feel healthy or to heal.

In addition, the sage plant is often associated with traditional festive meals and is used in fillings, casseroles, potatoes and meat. There is a good reason for that! Our full bellies could use some help after some of these feasts, and sage is an excellent digestive aid. Sage is also used as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent herb with particular benefits for menopausal women with night sweats.

Sage is native to the Mediterranean, similar to herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano and marjoram. All of these herbs enjoy the same hot, full sun and well-drained growing conditions. As with most herbs, the flavor is strongest when used fresh. However, sage dries easily for extended storage and retains a good taste.

When should I harvest sage?

Learning how to harvest sage is an essential step in herb success. Source: tgrauros

As a hardy perennial plant, sage produces edible leaves year round. Despite this year-round availability, it's best to follow a few simple harvesting rules to maintain healthy, productive plants and optimal aroma and flavor.

As tempting as it may be, don't harvest young plants in the first year. This includes sage grown from seeds or small immature, store-bought plants. Let the roots grow and enjoy the tall purple flower spikes and the many beneficial insects that they attract into your garden. The flowers can also be picked and used in arrangements or added to dishes as an accompaniment.

Harvest sage in spring and summer when the plants are actively growing and before they start to bloom. Sage leaves tend to lose some of their aroma after flowering, so it's best to harvest before that time. As summer ends and temperatures drop, sage leaf production slows down and almost completely stops in winter.

Do not despair! If you need sage leaves for a winter holiday meal, harvesting a few leaves at once won't harm the plant if you are careful. Garden sage is hardy in USDA Zones 4-8, so there should be some light harvests outside of its normal growing season.

In addition to the common sage plant known in the garden, Salvia officinalis, there are a few varieties of culinary sage that you may want to grow to add a touch of color and interest to your sage collection. Their taste and aroma are the same and vary in strength and hardness depending on the variety.

Purpurascens or "Purpurea" is a bushy, semi-evergreen sage shrub with soft gray-purple leaves that fade to gray-purple-green when young. It is hardy to 5-14 ºF (-10 to -15 ºC) USDA zones 6, 7.

"Ikterin" is a dwarf sage with brightly colored, light green leaves with yellow edges. It is hardy to 5-14 ºF (-10 to -15 ºC) USDA zones 6, 7.

"Tricolor" is a very attractive variety of sage with pink stems, petioles and shoots and variegated gray / green leaves with white edges covered with pink. It's compact in growth but is less hardy and is often grown in a container to bring indoors over winter.

"Berggarten" is a great sage for the kitchen and garden with broad, showy silver / green leaves and a bushy growth. It is hardy if grown in a sheltered spot in full sun and in very well drained soil, and will grow well in a container.

How to harvest sage

Harvested sageHarvest individual leaves or full stems. Source: Farmanac

Harvesting sage depends on how and when you plan to use your leaves. If you're harvesting a few fresh leaves to add to a meal, it's perfectly fine to cut out tips or individual leaves from a few sage plants. These easy pruning-and-recurring crops encourage the branching of sage plants, resulting in a fuller, bushier shrub.

If you are harvesting large quantities of sage leaves, make sure you use clean, sterilized secateurs or scissors. Only harvest up to a third of a growing sage plant at a time to allow the plants to rejuvenate for future harvests. A mature sage plant should produce up to three full harvests in one season. Never cut into old wood, as from this point the plant will no longer produce leaves in the future and hard cuts will make the bushes susceptible to diseases and weather conditions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Stop harvesting in the fall and let the plant rest and prepare for the coming winter months. If a few bushes of sage grow at the same time, a continuous supply of fresh and dried sage is guaranteed all year round, not just during the active growing season.

The best time of day to harvest sage is in the morning, when the dew has dried from the leaves and the leaves are still moisturized. Avoid harvesting during the hot seasons as the herbs spoil quickly in the heat.

A sage plant can become lignified and unproductive after 3-4 years of harvest and is best replaced with a younger, livelier plant.

How to store fresh sage

Sage plantThe sage plant is both delicious and beautiful in the garden. Source: Jörg Hempel

Fresh sage has the best taste and is easy to store.

Sage stems can be stored in jars with fresh water on the countertop for up to a week or in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Change the water every few days, and check the leaf daily for yellowing or mold growth, both signs that it has passed its best useful life. . Wash your sage before use.

Sage stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to a week when stored in a zippered plastic bag or wrapped in damp kitchen paper. Do not wash immediately after harvest; Instead, wash it just before use.

There are three ways to freeze sage. First wash the leaves and remove them from the stem, then pat dry with kitchen paper.

  • Place whole leaves on a tray and place the tray in the freezer. After freezing, place all of the leaves in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until needed.
  • Fill the ice cube tray with finely chopped sage. Fill the trays with water and freeze. Once frozen, take the sage ice cubes out of their trays and store them in a tub or bag in the freezer until ready to use. Add these to sauces, casseroles, stews, and more.
  • Fill ice cube trays with finely chopped sage, top up with oil of your choice and freeze. When frozen, the sage oil cubes can be stored in a tub or bag in the freezer. Use in sage butter or similar to sage ice cubes.

Sage stored at room temperature without hydration will wither and spoil quickly if not used immediately.

Sage dry dry

Washed and dried sageOnce washed and patted dry, fresh sage can be dried, frozen, or used. Source: self-made

Sage leaves dry well for long-term storage and retain their good taste for up to a year. Once the leaves are dry, store them whole or crumbled in glass containers with airtight closures and put them in a dark and cool place. Depending on how quickly you want to use the herbs, you can try different drying methods.

Sage has a medium to high water content, which causes some leaves to dry unevenly. This creates places where mold can form during storage. For all of the methods described below, gently wash the leaves under cold water and shake off the excess.

Hang up to dry: Tie small bundles of sage with string and hang upside down to dry in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. They'll feel crispy when they're ready to be stored. If you don't have a dark place to hang them, lightly drape a clean paper bag over the bundles. This will prevent dust and light from damaging or staining the leaves. When completely dry, remove the leaves from the stems, crumble to taste and store in an airtight container. Any leaves that don't feel completely dry can be quickly oven dried (see method below) to remove excess moisture.

Flat air drying: Remove the leaves from the stems and distribute them evenly on a raised wire or grid that allows good air circulation. Place another tray on top or cover it with a light, clean cotton cloth or paper to prevent dust and dirt from settling on the leaves. When dry, store whole or crumble in an airtight glass.

Drainage: In addition to drying tomatoes, berries, and other fruits and vegetables, dehydrators can be used to preserve the sage plant. Place the leaves evenly on flat drying trays. Place in the dehydrator and set the time and temperature according to the manufacturer's instructions. After drying, store in an airtight container as described above.

Oven drying: This is a great way to dry herbs in under an hour. The only downside is that the drying speed can reduce the aroma and taste. Remove the leaves from the stems and spread them evenly on a baking sheet. Turn the oven on to the lowest setting, place the tray in the middle of the oven and close the door until it is only a crack. This allows the moisture from the leaves to escape from the oven. Different herbs take different times to dry, so keep an eye on the leaves as they can burn quickly. Once the leaves have reached a crispy consistency, they can be stored.

frequently asked Questions

Q: How do you harvest sage without killing the plant?

A: 1 Do not try to harvest from young plants in the first year and never try to cut into old wood.

Q: How do you know when sage is ready to harvest?

A: Sage plants are ready to harvest when they are at least a year old and have plenty of healthy new growth. For best taste, harvest the leaves in spring and summer before the plant flowers.

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