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The strong scent of sage adds a highly aromatic flavor to cooked dishes. Sage leaves complement pork and chicken entrees, while also providing flavor to cream sauces and soups. Sage is sometimes used in teas or herbal remedies but it truly shines as a culinary herb. You can use sage fresh or dried but freshly cut from the garden leaves contain the strongest flavor and aroma. Harvesting at the right time ensures the leaves are filled with the oils that give the herb its flavor. Sage cut at its peak is suitable for both fresh use and drying for later use.
Snip off stems from the outside of the sage plant with a small pair of shears. Cut the stems so they are 3 to 6 inches long and contain two or more leaf sets.
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Harvest the sage before it begins to bloom or just as the buds begin to swell. The leaves lose their flavor once the plant begins flowering.
Strip the leaves from the stem after harvesting. Discard the stems.
Use the leaves whole or cut them into smaller pieces, as preferred. Make a pile of three or more leaves on top the cutting board. Coarsely chop the sage into the desired size pieces. Cutting severs and bruises the leaves so they release more oil and fragrance.
If you are harvesting the sage to dry, dry and store whole leaves. Crumble or crush the leaves immediately before use to release the most flavor.