Dried Sage Vs Fresh Sage: Best Choice And Substitutions

Do you have a sage plant at home and harvested some fresh leaves, but you don’t know how to use them just yet? Or maybe you’re trying to decide whether or not you should dry out the leaves to store away for another time.

This article will explain the similarities and differences between dried sage leaves vs fresh sage leaves. Then, it’ll help you decide what to do with each.

For example, we’ll first talk about a few methods to dry fresh sage leaves. Then, we’ll go more in-depth about the differences between them.

For instance, we’ll discuss taste, appearance, price and availability, health benefits, and using the herb in cooking. 

Finally, we’ll explain how you can substitute one for the other in your cooking and how to do so. 

How To Dry Fresh Sage

If you have fresh sage on hand and you want to keep it longer, then you’ll want to dry out the leaves.

There are a few ways you can go about doing this. For example, you can dry out sage leaves by doing the following:

  • Dry it out in the Microwave
  • Dry it out in the oven
  • Dry it out in a dehydrator
  • Air-dry the sage leaves

For example, you can learn more about drying sage leaves in the microwave here.

Drying out your sage leaves not only allows you to keep the herb longer, but it’ll also retain its flavor.

If you dry out your sage leaves, then you’ll be able to harvest more from your sage plant without wasting any leaves.

Fresh sage
Fresh sage

Dried Sage Vs Fresh Sage

Fresh sage leaves are what it sounds like: these leaves are whole and fresh right off the sage plant.

On the other hand, dried sage leaves are those same leaves but dried out.

Both can be used for the same recipes, but they have their differences. 

Fresh Sage Vs Dried Sage: Taste Differences

Fresh sage leaves are known for their pine and citrus flavor. They have the strongest flavor when harvested from the plant right before the flowers bloom.

When dried out, the leaves retain this flavor and can be stronger to taste.

In most cases, herbs will lose their flavor when being dried out, but sage locks in the taste. So, whether you use fresh or dried, you can be sure to get a similar strong taste from both.

However, drying out the herb can also make it taste more bitter.

Dried Vs Fresh Sage: Appearance

Fresh sage has oval leaves that look wrinkled or rough. Also, they’re a wash-out green color, often looking like it’s mixed with gray or white.

Also, fresh sage leaves are rather big, about four inches long.

On the other hand, dried sage shrinks as the moisture is taken. As a result, the leaves shrivel and will crumble at your touch.

Dried Sage
Dried Sage

Fresh Vs Dried Sage: Price And Availability

You can buy sage fresh or dried at your local grocery store. Depending on where the sage comes from, this can be bought all year round.

However, if you buy it from the grocery store, you can get fresh sage leaves, dried sage leaves, or sage oil.

Fresh sage leaves are often more expensive than dried sage leaves. The fresh leaves don’t last as long as dried sage.

For instance, fresh leaves have a shelf life of about 10 – 14 days if it’s kept in the fridge. However, if it’s kept at room temperature, it’ll only last for about three to five days.

On the other hand, you can buy dried leaves for a cheaper price and, if stored properly, the dried leaves will keep for up to a year.

Alternatively, you can grow your sage plant. If you do this, then you have the option to harvest fresh leaves and use them as such, or you can dry them out and store them for later.

It will be cheaper for you in the long run, and you’ll be able to have an abundance of this herb for a long time. 

Dried Vs Fresh Sage: Health Benefits

There’s a lot to love about this herb. Not only does it taste good, but there are many different nutritional benefits to it.

For instance, adding sage (fresh or dried) to your diet can have amazing nutritional value. For example, this herb contains the following:

  • High in vitamin K
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Promotes oral health
  • Controls blood sugar levels
  • Low in fat, calories, and sugar
  • Contains many other vitamins and minerals (such as magnesium, zinc, and copper)

If you want to get all the nutritional benefits from this herb, it’ll be best to eat fresh. Drying out this herb will make it so some nutrients are lost due to the moisture being dried out.

In addition, this herb is known to help prevent cancer and support menopause symptoms. 

Fresh Vs Dried Sage: How It Is Used In Cooking

You can cook well with either fresh sage leaves or dried sage leaves. However, they will create a different flavor for your dish.

For example, dried sage leaves have a more potent flavor than fresh leaves. So, depending on how well you like the taste, you can add fresh or dried leaves.

On the other hand, fresh sage leaves are a great decoration as a garnish.

What Is The Winner?

Of course, there’s no right or wrong answer to whether you should use fresh sage leaves over dried sage leaves or vice versa.

However, if you want a more robust flavor, you can add dried sage leaves to your recipes. On the other hand, if you’re going to get all the nutritional benefits from this herb, then using fresh sage leaves is the way to go.

If you have the time and the space in your kitchen, you can grow your sage plant and dry out the leaves yourself, depending on how you want to use this herb.

Alternatively, you can buy fresh leaves and dry them out yourself or skip that process and buy sage that’s already dried for you. 

Can You Substitute Dried Sage For Fresh Sage?

The short answer is yes. You can substitute dried sage for fresh and vice versa.

However, the two have a difference in taste. So, you’ll need to keep this in mind when substituting.

For example, dry sage has a stronger flavor than fresh. So, you’ll need to be mindful of how much you put in, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be.

For instance, if you substitute dried sage for fresh, you can add the fresh leaves later in the recipe so the flavor can still be strong enough.

On the other hand, if you substitute fresh leaves for dried ones, you can add the dried sage to the recipes much earlier. During the cooking time, this will mellow the flavor out a bit.

But if you substitute fresh sage to dry sage (or dried sage to fresh), how much do you use?

How Much Fresh Sage Equals Dried Sage?

A general rule of thumb is that the fresh sage to dried sage conversion is about seven fresh sage leaves equal to two teaspoons of dried sage.

From there, it’s simple math. For example, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried sage leaves and you only have fresh on hand, you can add three to four fresh leaves.

Remember, fresh sage leaves grow to be about four inches long. So, you can imagine how strong the flavor can be if you add about seven leaves into a recipe. Adding less than that of dried leaves, you’ll still get a strong taste.

Final Words

There are pros and cons to using both fresh sage leaves and dried sage leaves in the long run. However, you can use either one in your cooking.

The biggest part of deciding which one to use is the taste and nutritional value. For example, fresh sage is great for a more subtle flavor, even though it’s still strong. Also, you’ll get more health benefits from it.

Want to learn more? Click here to find out how to dry sage and here for what to plant with sage. You can also find all my guides to growing sage here or find out how ground sage compares to dried sage here.