Image: KVDP @ Wikipedia
Drying herbs straight from the garden is a tasty and cost effective way to preserve them. All you need are a few simple things that can be found around the house and a cool, dry, dark place to dry them. Here’s what you need:
Herb Drying Supplies
- Fresh Herbs
- Paper Bags (lunch bag size)
- Rubber Bands
- Jars with Lids (small or large)
Drying Herbs in 5 Steps
Step 1: Choosing Herbs
As you snip fresh herbs from the garden, choose ones that are mature and disease free. Pick them at the height of their flavor. Shake loose any bugs or debris before bringing them into the house.
Step 2: To Hang or Not to Hang
To Hang: If you have herbs with long stems such as lavender, it’s easier to hang them to dry. Wrap a rubber band about 2 - 3" up from the bottom of the stems to secure the bunch together. Slip a paper lunch bag over the top of the bunch so the 2 - 3" of stem are sticking out. Hang the bunch of herbs upside down in a cool, dark and dry place. The paper bag will catch any herbs that fall from the stem as they dry. The rest can be removed from the stem by hand.
Not to Hang: Some herbs, such as basil, can be dried by laying them flat on newspaper. Lay sheets of newspaper in a cool, dry and dark place. Place individual leaves or sprigs of herbs on the newspaper so they aren’t touching. Give them time to dry.
Step 3: Shred, Rip & Dice Dry Herbs
What do the herbs look like that are already in your kitchen cupboard? Are they shredded into small pieces that fit nicely into your measuring spoons and cups? Think about how you’re going to use them the most and shred, rip and dice your dried herbs accordingly. For herbs like bay leaves, keep them whole.
Step 4: Choosing Containers
You can buy spice containers or save the ones already in your cupboards as they empty. I use Mason jars, both small and large depending on how many dried herbs I have to store. Always label your containers with the name of the herb and the date.
Step 5: Storing Dried Herbs
You may want to proudly display your collection of dried herbs along your stove top or on a shelf in the kitchen, and hey, who could blame you, but too much exposure to light can diminish the flavor of your prized herb collection. The best place to store them is in the cupboard out of the light.
Additional Tips for Drying Herbs
- Check herbs weekly as they dry
- Remove dried herbs from the stem over a sheet of paper, bend the paper so it’s almost folded in half & dump into the container
- Cut small vents in paper bags to increase airflow & drying times
- Instead of newspaper, use drying racks to dry herbs without hanging
Planning Ahead for the Next Growing Season
As the herbs that you dried begin to dwindle, keep a list of which herbs you used the most and which ones you wish you had. Use this list as a guide for which herbs to grow next year. P.S. A jar full of dried herbs straight from your garden makes a great gift.