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Drying Herbs

September 19, 2010

One of the foods we successfully grew in our garden this summer were herbs.  And, the plants are lush and full but the weather outside is getting colder by the day and frost is on its’ way.  Now is the time to cut those fresh herbs and bring them indoors to dry.  I cut some parsley, oregano, lavender, and mint this morning around 10am. 

DRYING HERBS FOR USE LATER:

Harvesting

  • Harvest before flowering.  Throughout the summer as you use your herbs be sure to pinch off the flowers.  This will promote strong growth and prevent them from going to seed.  As the weather cools your non-hardy herbs will start to decline, so late summer (for us September) is a good time to begin drying your herbs.
  • Cut in mid-morning. Let the morning dew dry from the leaves, but pick before the plants are wilting in the afternoon sun.

How To Dry Herbs

  1. 1.   Cut healthy branches from your herb plants.
  2. 2.   Remove any dry or diseased leaves.
  3. 3.   Shake gently to remove any insects.
  4. 4.   If necessary, rinse with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Wet herbs will mold and rot.
  5. 5.   Remove the lower leaves along the bottom inch or so of the branch.
  6. 6.   Bundle 4 – 6 branches together and tie as a bunch. You can use string or a rubber band. The bundles will shrink as they dry and the rubber band will loosen, so check periodically that the bundle is not slipping. Make small bundles if you are trying to dry herbs with high water content.
  7. Punch or cut several holes in a paper bag. Label the bag with the name of the herb you are drying.
  8. Place the herb bundle upside down into the bag.
  9. Gather the ends of the bag around the bundle and tie closed. Make sure the herbs are not crowded inside the bag.
  10. Hang the bag upside down in a warm, airy room.
  11. Check in about two weeks to see how things are progressing. Keep checking weekly until your herbs are dry and ready to store.

Storing Dry Herbs

  • Store your dried herbs in air tight containers. Zip closing bags will do. I like to use small canning jars.
  • Be sure to label and date your containers.
  • Your herbs will retain more flavor if you store the leaves whole and crush them when you are ready to use them.
  • Discard any dried herbs that show the slightest sign of mold.
  • Place containers in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
  • Dried herbs are best used within a year. As your herbs lose their color, they are also losing their flavor.

My herbs are hanging on a drying rack by our wood stove (the stove is not on yet) and tomorrow I will bundle the parsley and oregano and put them into their brown paper packages.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 3, 2010 11:48 pm

    I am so glad I don’t eat all that processed food anymore. Having my own garden and feeding my family from it has been very healthy for us.

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