A non-profit organization dedicated to education with regard to the culture and use of herbs
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 MHS 2015 Herb of the Year   
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Herb of the Year
- Sage

Sage: More Than Just a Thanksgiving Herb!

By Bonnie Kulke, Joyce Pohl, and Carrie Wilkey

Harvesting and Preserving Sage

Common sage is best harvested in spring and early summer, or before flowering. Sage can be harvested all season in small amounts, ending by early September. Depending on where you live, it is possible to harvest sage as late as Thanksgiving, depending on how early frost and snow arrives. Never cut your sage plant all the way back to the ground when trimming or harvesting.

Gather young tender leaves for fresh use. Choose only those leaves with vibrant color that are blemish-free. The aroma should be pungent and minty, not moldy or musty. The taste will be a bit strong and slightly bitter, but still with a cool mint undertone.

To store sage for fresh use, remove leaves from bottom of stem and stand stems in a jar of water. Place on the counter, away from heat and sun, or cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Itís best to cut only what you can use in 3Ė5 days. Fresh leaves may also be stored in vinegar, or chopped into butter and frozen for future use on vegetables.

To harvest for drying and winter use, gather leaves after dew has dried in the morning, but before the heat of the day. Young leaves and tender sprigs can be dried in small bunches by hanging them in a warm, dark, dry place. More mature leaves should be carefully removed from the stem to keep them whole and intact. Spread the leaves on a clean cloth or paper towels elevated on a cooling rack for even air circulation. Again, place in a warm, dry place away from light to avoid oils being evaporated and losing flavor and aroma. Leaves should be dry and brittle in 3-5 days, and can be labeled and stored in paper bags until fall. Do not put dried leaves in plastic or glass jars too soon, or humidity will cause molding. When you are ready to use your dried herbs, crumble the dry leaves to release fragrance and flavor.

Sage can also be frozen, either as whole leaves in a sealed plastic freezer bag, or chopped and put into ice cube trays. Never dry sage in an oven, dehydrator, or microwave, as the heat will dissipate the flavor. Try to dry only one yearís worth of herbs, then replace them the next season.

Overview and Varieties of Sage

How to Grow Sage

History and Folklore of Sage

Cooking with Sage

Household, Cosmetic, and Garden Uses of Sage

Medicinal Uses of Sage




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2011 - Mint
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2010 - Dill
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2009 - Bay Laurel
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2008 - Scented Geraniums and Edible Flowers
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2007 - Herbs de Provence
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2006 - Rosemary
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2005 - Oregano/Marjoram
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2004 - Lemon Herbs
For the 2004 Madison Herb Society Herb of the Year, we’re revisiting Lemon Herbs. There are many and they come from a variety of herb families.

2003 - The Alliums
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Garlic - a culinary favorite, growing and harvesting garlic
Chives - an overview of this tastyherb

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