When I get fresh wood, I section it into manageable chunks, coat the cut ends with wax and stash it in the shed.
Ideally, you then want to let it dry for a year or two, although for a thin branch like this (as opposed to a trunk log) it should only need six months or so.
However, this branch only came off the tree a few months ago, so it wasn’t perfectly dry. Due to this, a few small cracks opened in the narrow parts at the handles while I was working it. They mostly closed up again after the final coating with oil, though.
If it’s just a small piece and you’re in a hurry, you can speed up the process considerably with the aid of a microwave: