Q. I have a large pot of sage growing on the protected side of my house (north) where all my citrus and other herbs have done well. I notice that when the weather cools, the sage leaves turn a whitish color. I collected some for sage dressing, but I didn’t bother using the white leaves, just the green ones. Is this a natural occurrence during cold weather? Would those leaves have been okay to use?
I dry the good leaves in the oven at 225 degrees for about 1 hour, leave them out in the house to get thoroughly dry for a day or so, then crush them in a coffee grinder. Works great for my use in the kitchen, especially for sage dressing.
A. This white discoloration is probably some damage to the leaves due to cold. You are right, don’t use them.
However, drying at 225F is far too high. This should be done at temperatures between 95 and about 125F. There is a lot of damage done to the herbs at high temperatures, particularly above 140F.
Our weather and climate is perfect for drying herbs without the use of extra heat. It will take longer than one hour but the quality will be much, much better. Cut the stems of those with flower buds just starting to form. Hang these bunches in the open air and not in intense sunlight for 1 week to dry.
If this is too slow for you, use a cookie sheet and put in the oven at the lowest temperature that provides heat. Bottom line, do not use excessive heat and keep them out of intense sunlight while drying. Hope this helps.