Jul 6, 2023
Sage is a well-loved herb that spans generations of cultures. However, it’s a challenge to store because of its delicate nature. It’s sensitive to moisture, making it susceptible to flavor loss and mold. The best way to help maintain its essential oils and flavors for 25 years is by freeze-drying it.
You have to get the best herb for your kitchen to get the best flavor for your dish. Here are some tips on choosing the right basil to freeze-dry.
Sage has a long history of use, spanning ancient times. It’s got several uses, from medicinal, ritual, and culinary. Which means there are several varieties of sage to choose from. But since we’re talking about food, then you can choose between two options. One is the common or culinary sage (Salvia officinalis), and the other is Greek Sage (S. fruticosa).
You get the best sage flavor from leaves that have a vibrant, bright color. They should be plump, succulent, and free from any discoloration.
Sage, like basil, often comes in a bunch of stems in the grocery or farmer’s market. Hold the bunch upright and check if the stems are firm and upright. Don’t pick the soft and drooping ones because they will lack flavor.
Sometimes stores will tie a thick band around the stems. However, if the stems outside the bunch are drooping, chances are, the ones inside are too.
Preparing sage is simple and easy to do.
After ensuring you have your best sage in hand, you should start the process by cleaning. Put the bunch of sage in a colander untied and wash under cold running water. You can also put the herb in a large bowl of water and let it soak for 2-3 minutes. This will help loosen any debris and dirt, which will collect at the bottom of the bowl.
After washing, carefully shake off any excess water. Put the herb in a salad spinner, then dry it on a clean kitchen towel.
Once your herb is clean and dry, the next thing you need to do is pick the leaves. Pinch off the leaves from the stem one by one. As much as possible, pick the leaves only. This way, you get the best flavor and texture.
Pre-freezing isn’t necessary for herbs, but it can help. Especially if your freeze dryer’s currently occupied with other food items. If you plan to pre-freeze, there are two things you need to do.
Once you put the leaves inside the freezer, don’t open the door for at least 48 hours. Opening and closing, even for a short period, can cause a spike in temperature. This drop can lead to condensation, which causes large ice crystals to form. These large ice crystals damage the cell wall of the leaves, resulting in a poor-quality product.
Your freeze dryer trays should also be freezing cold. This will prevent condensation from happening on the surface of the leaf. This will also help prevent a sudden drop in the chamber temperature that can increase wear and tear on your machine.
We’ll be doing two versions of the freeze-drying process. One version is for machines that have v5.0 software. The other is for those with a v5.x.24 updated software.
Freeze drying time for sage can be 16-24 hours. However, that will depend on several factors:
You know that you’re done freeze-drying when the leaves have this crisp, airy, dry feel to it. If any leaves feel soft and cool to the touch, put the trays back for 2-3 hours of extra dry time.
You can store your freeze-dried sage leaves as is. Or you can put them in a Zip Lock bag and crunch them into fine flakes or powder.
Then you can choose a Mason Jar for on-demand use. Or a Mylar bag if you want to keep your sage for 20-35 years. Before sealing, make sure to throw in 1-2 of the 300cc oxygen absorber packets. This will help remove residual oxygen in your container and further extend shelf life.
If you’ll use it for cooking, there’s no need to rehydrate. Simply add the herb to your pot and let the flavor infuse. Since you only need a small amount, there’s no need to worry about adding more water to your recipe.
There’s also no need to rehydrate it if you’re using freeze-dried sage for baking. What you need to know is that the flavor can be stronger. Although Litehouse recommends a 1-gram freeze-dried herb conversion ratio per 1 gram fresh, test it first. You might find you need a little less, depending on your recipe.
Freeze-drying sage is a great way to preserve this versatile herb. Once you have it in your pantry, you’ll have an aromatic ingredient you can use all year round.
What do you want to make with your freeze-dried sage? Let us know in the comment section.
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