Herb gardens are a great way to fill up spaces in your garden plots and boxes. They are easy to grow, produce wonderful and delicious fresh herbs for all of your cooking needs, and often produce an abundant harvest. Learn how to dry herbs properly so that you can enjoy your large harvest.
If you have an OVER abundance of herbs from your home garden then have no fear. Herbs are very easy to dry and use throughout the coming months.
The most important thing to consider is which method would be the best choice for the herbs that you have on hand. Drier herbs, such as oregano, dill, and rosemary are great choices for the air drying method, whereas harvested herbs that contain more moisture, such as mint and basil are better served with a food dehydrator or oven drying processes. If you have a freeze dryer this works even better. I recently purchased a harvest right, and it works great on drying both herbs and other high yield crops from my garden.
Gather the harvested herbs into small bundles, between 5-10 branches per bundle. Secure each bundle with a rubber band or string/twine. Place a bundle, stems up, in a paper bag, tie the bag closed, then cut a few small holes in the bag for air circulation and ventilation. The bag is options abut it keeps bugs, birds and other elements away from your beautiful herbs. Finally, hang the bag by the stems in a warm place. Herbs dried with this method will be fully dried and ready to use in about 1 week.
Herbs can be hung indoors or outdoors, it really doesn’t matter but make sure to check the weather if you want to hang them outdoors. You won’t want it to rain during this time. Air drying slows the process allowing the herbs to maintain their full flavor.
This simple of herb drying requires you to lay out the herbs in a single layer on a shallow baking sheet and placing them in a warm oven (set at your oven’s lower temperature setting). This will take 2-3 hours. Once the herbs are very dry and easily crumble between your fingers, they are done.
This is a great option for busy moms, or anyone who wants to speed up the process. You will however loose the essential oils from your herbs during this drying process. This results in a softer flavor.
During the drying time make sure to keep the oven door slightly ajar as it will aid in air circulation, one of the most important elements to effectively drying your own homegrown herbs. You can also dry herbs that require this method in a food dehydrator if you have access to one.
Herbs that are properly dried and stored will stay fresh and useable for 6-12 months. Need some recipes for those herbs? Check out this article: 5 Herbs Every Cook Should Grow