DIY: How to Dry Your Own Herbs
By Dr Dunner February 08, 2018
We’ve covered how to grow your own herbs, now it’s time to learn how to dry them. Growing herbs is a great way to sneak natural ingredients into your food, but often there is a lot more than you can possibly use in one season. Luckily, air drying herbs is both very easy and very inexpensive, and often will retain the essential oils so they don’t lose flavor!
What You’ll Need
- String or rubber bands
- Paper bags
- Fresh herbs
- Warm, airy room
- Airtight container
Harvesting Herbs for Drying
One of the most important things you can do when harvesting fresh herbs for drying, is to harvest them before they flower. Once they flower, they begin releasing the essential (and often aromatic) oils that contain all of the great flavor and beneficial properties you look for in a healthy diet. You can do this in late summer, during mid-mornings while the plant is fresh and not wilting in the afternoon sun.
Be sure to cut healthy branches. Dry or diseased branches will have lost all of their essential oil. You can gently shake the branches to remove any excess soil or insects. If you must, rinse off the soil with some cool water, but be sure to pat dry or let air dry in an area with lots of circulation. Attempting to dry wet herbs will mildew or rot.
Drying the Herbs
Step 1: Remove leaves about an inch from the bottom. You can use these leaves fresh immediately, or dry them separately.
Step 2: Bundle 4 to 6 stems together and tie as a bunch using the string or rubber band, but keep in mind that the stems will shrink over time and the rubber band will loosen, so be sure to check from time to time to make sure the bundle isn’t slipping. For herbs with high water content, make smaller bundles to ensure proper air flow and prevent rotting.
Step 3: Cut or punch several holes in the paper bag, and label it with the name of the herb you are drying. Then place the herb bundle upside down in the bag. You can use the loose leaves you removed from the bottom of the stem if you would like.
Step 4: Gather the ends of the bag around the bundle and tie closed, making sure that the herbs are not crowded inside of it.
Step 5: Hang the bag upside down in a warm, airy room.
Step 6: Check back in about two weeks to see how the drying is progressing. Keep checking weekly until they are dry and ready to store in an airtight container.