How to Make Rubbed Sage at Home

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  • 01 of 04

    Pick Fresh Sage Leaves

    Sage Leaves Ready to Be Dried
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    Many recipes you come across will call for 'rubbed sage.' This is, quite simply, dried sage leaves that have been rubbed into a fine, fluffy powder. It can be used as a substitute for ground, dried, or fresh sage and it's very easy to make yourself.

    Whether you have a sage plant in your herb garden or simply have fresh sage leftover from the market, you can transform it into rubbed sage. It can be stored and used for up to one year in any recipe that requires sage.

    What Is Rubbed Sage?

    R...MOREubbed sage is a light, fluffy powder produced from the dried leaves of the sage plant. It is a popular way to use the fragrant herb in recipes and is found in many Italian and Greek dishes. You will also want to add rubbed sage to your holiday turkey stuffings and rubs. It is fabulous on chicken along with oregano and thyme as well.

    Rubbing sage releases the herb's essential oils and revives dried sage into a flavorful ingredient. Yet, the flavor is less concentrated than ground sage, so an adjustment must be made when using it as a recipe substitute. Rubbed sage can also replace fresh sage leaves.

    • Use twice as much rubbed sage when substituting it in a recipe that calls for ground sage. 
    • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) rubbed sage can replace 1 cup fresh sage

    Choosing Your Sage

    In your garden, pick as many sage leaves as possible as they reduce tremendously in size when dried. It is best to pick herbs in the morning after the dew evaporates because this is when they are producing the most essential oils that contribute to their flavor and aroma.

    Choose unblemished leaves if you can, but remember that you will be breaking these leaves into a fluffy mixture. A nick or two won't even be noticed. Do avoid any leaves that look spoiled. 

    Rinse your cut sage under water and lay the stalks out on paper towels until all of the moisture evaporates. This will remove any bugs, dirt, and dust the plant picked up in the garden.

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  • 02 of 04

    Dry the Sage Leaves Until Crisp

    Crisp, dried sage leaves
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    Before you can make rubbed sage, the leaves must be dried until they are nice and crispy. This can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks depending on the drying method you use. Other factors that affect drying time are the amount of moisture in the leaves and the humidity in your home.

    If you're in a hurry for rubbed sage, choose a fast drying method like the oven or a food dehydrator. If you can wait, hanging the sage to dry is one of the best choices to retain the herb's full...MORE flavor.

    • Oven-Dried Sage - Remove sage leaves from the stems and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Heat the oven to the lowest possible temperature and 'bake' the sage leaves until crisp. This should be around 2 to 3 hours, but you will want to check on the progress often.
    • Food Dehydrator - If you have a dehydrator, this would be preferred to the oven. Don't dry other foods at the same time because they can be infused with the strong sage aroma. Place individual leaves in a single layer and check them often until they become crisp.
    • Sun-Dried Sage - We're not as concerned about color fading from the sun here because you will be producing a fine powder, so sun drying your sage is an option. It can, however, take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Lay sage leaves or full stems out on a paper towel, brown paper bag (without ink), or drying screen and place them in the sun until crisp.
    • Hang Sage to Dry - A preferred method for many culinary herbs, this is very easy but it does take the most time (4 to 6 weeks on average). Bundle about five long stems of sage together and tie the ends with a rubber band. Hang the herb bundle upside down from a nail or bend a paper clip into an "S" shape to form a hook. Allow the sage to dry to a crisp before removing the leaves.

    Some gardeners like to place paper bags over the ends of their hanging herbs to keep the dust off. This is a good option, but sage does look great in the home while it's drying, so feel free to find any spare nail or hook to hang it. If you do opt for the brown bag trick, secure it with a rubber band and poke holes in it to ensure proper air circulation.

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  • 03 of 04

    Rub Sage Leaves Through a Colander

    Rub sage leaves through colander
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    After your sage is completely dry, it's time to rub the leaves into a fine powder. You can use your hands alone, but it's much easier to use the aid of a colander or fine mesh strainer. This will eliminate the need to pick out any stems that fall into the rubbed sage because they will be caught in the colander.

    The goal of rubbing sage is to transform the dried leaves into a fine powder. It is extremely easy and a very fragrant task that will make your kitchen smell great.

    1. Place your...MORE colander or strainer over a large bowl to capture all of your sage dustings.
    2. Place the dried sage leaves inside the colander. If you have a lot of sage to rub, spit it into manageable batches.
    3. Using your fingertips, rub the pile of sage leaves into the bottom of the colander. This will grind the leaves into a fine powder.
    4. The light and fluffy sage powder will drop through the holes of the colander and into the bowl. Continue rubbing until all of the sage has broken down (you may be left with stems in the colander, simply discard those).
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  • 04 of 04

    Storing Your Hand-Rubbed Sage Powder

    Hand Rubbed Sage Powder
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    When you've processed all of your sage leaves, it should be stored right away. Pack it into a glass or metal jar with a tight sealing lid. This is the perfect excuse to recycle old spice containers and clean condiment jars.

    The rubbed sage will store for up to a year, which is perfect timing for your next sage harvest. As with any herb, discard any old sage after a year as it will lose its flavor. It's perfect for adding to your compost or simply spreading out in the garden or yard.

    The...MORE flavor of rubbed sage intensifies when frozen. Use it sparingly if you are making something like ​a homemade sausage that will go in the freezer.