Air drying works best with herbs that do not have a high moisture content, like bay , dill , marjoram, oregano , rosemary , summer savory, and thyme. To retain the best flavor of these herbs, you'll either need to allow them to dry naturally or use a food dehydrator. A microwave or an oven set on low may seem like a convenient shortcut, but they actually cook the herbs to a degree, diminishing the oil content and flavor. Use these appliances only as a last resort. It's easy to do and even quicker than drying.
Remove any dry or diseased leaves from the cut herbs. Yellowed leaves and leaves spotted by disease are not worth drying. Their flavor has already been diminished by the stress of the season. Shake the branches gently to remove any insects. There are always hitchhikers, and since you won't be thoroughly washing the stems, get rid of as many as you can right now.
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Make sure the herbs are dry. If you've picked your herbs while the plants are dry, you should be able to simply shake off any excess soil. Rinse with cool water only if necessary and pat dry with paper towels. Hang or lay the herb branches out where they will get plenty of air circulation so they can dry out quickly. Wet herbs will mold and rot. Remove the lower leaves along the bottom inch or so of the stem. You can use these leaves fresh or dry them separately.
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Bundle four to six stems together and tie as a bunch. You can either use a string or a rubber band. The bundles will shrink as they dry and the rubber band will loosen, so check periodically to make sure that the bundle is not slipping. If you are trying to dry herbs that have a high water content, make small bundles so they get air flow between the branches and do not rot. Punch or cut holes in a paper bag, then label the bag with the name of the herb you are drying.
Place the herb bundle upside down into the bag. You can include the loose leaves you removed from the bottom inch of the stems if you like. Secure the bag by gathering the end around the bundle and tie it closed. Make sure the herbs are not crowded inside the bag.
A Guide to Drying Herbs and Spices
Check in about two weeks to see how things are progressing. Keep checking weekly until your herbs are dry enough to crumble and ready to store. In This Article Expand. Best Herbs for Drying. When to Harvest. Project Metrics. Things You'll Need.
When you're ready to make a final trimming of your herbs for the season:. Harvest herbs before they flower for the fullest flavor.
Herb Drying Basics
For these, you'll harvest the flower heads after the seeds form. I like to choose strong stems with healthy, intact leaves for drying. In most cases, I don't even need to wash the cuttings since I keep an organic garden and don't have dogs roaming around where the edibles grow. You can definitely give the herbs a wash in cool water prior to drying, just be sure to gently shake off the excess moisture, and remove any wilted leaves, spots, insects, or other unsavory elements.
I find air drying to be the easiest method and this can be accomplished in a few different ways.
For plants with tiny leaves like thyme and oregano, I like to lay the stems out on paper towels or a flattened piece of brown paper bag. Some folks like to put a clean tea or kitchen towel on a drying rack like one used for cooling fresh-baked cookies and lay the herbs out there. This is best done when the weather is warm and dry. Once the herbs are completely dry, strip the leaves from the stem by sliding your thumb and forefinger along the stem from top to bottom working against the natural upwards bending of the leaves helps them come right off and gather them together in a sealed container.
I gather several stalks together and use a rubber band to hold them at the base. Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry place out of direct sunlight, like in a garage, shed, basement, etc. Wire, hemp twine, paper clips, and even clothes pins work great for hanging these bundles. You'll just want to make sure that the air can circulate around them and they aren't likely to get exposed to moisture or bugs.
Other methods of drying herbs include using a heat source like an oven or an electric dehydrator. When using an oven, you'll want to strip the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a cookie sheet. Turn the oven on to the very lowest setting and keep a close eye on the herbs while they are drying to make sure they don't dry too quickly, become crisp, or stick to the pans.
How to Freeze or Dry Herbs, Herb Garden | Gardener's Supply
For an electric dehydrator, be sure to read the directions that come with your dehydrator for tips on drying times, how to place the leaves in the trays, and temperature suggestions. For drying herbs with seed heads like fennel or dill , I like to put a paper or plastic bag over the heads and tie this around the stalks so any seeds that fall will be caught in the bag. Either way, you'll want to bring the herbs indoors when they are thoroughly dry.
After the herbs are thoroughly dried, it is important to store them properly to preserve taste and quality. I like to keep dried herbs in clean glass jars with lids or spice jars with corks or shaker tops. You could just as easily keep them in plastic jars or sealed plastic bags. For long-term preservation, the herbs can be frozen in this dried state too. You'll want to make sure to avoid temperature fluctuations and exposure to light.