View Full Version : Drying Herbs

Garden Green
01-04-2009, 08:13 PM
Harvest before flowering and before it starts to cool down. Late summer is best.

When cutting your herbs for drying, you want to not only take the leaves, but the stem, too. This is so that they can be bundled and hung.

Cut the herbs mid morning. This gives the dew a chance to dry and before the late afternoon sun has a chance to wilt them. Also harvesting while they are dry keeps them from molding or rotting, if you need to wash them, give them a good rinse the day before you harvest and if necessary, wash them once they are cut and dry them thoroughly.

Make sure to check over the leaves of your herbs for pests or diseased leaves and discard.

Remove growth from the bottom couple of inches of the stem and bundle with 4 to 5 other stems. You can use string or yarn, rubber bands or twist ties, it's up to you but the important thing it so keep checking. When plants dry, they shrink so you may need to tighten your bundling device.

Herbs with less water content can be in larger bundles, those with more water content should always be bundled in smaller numbers.

When drying herbs in this manner, it is important to keep them in a dark but warm ventilated place. Light has a habit of leeching color, flavor and texture from just about any food left out long enough, not to mention spoilage. There are several methods for drying. If you have a dark pantry, you can simply hang them up in the pantry and keep the door closed. You can insert the bundles in a paper bag where holes have been punched so that they can breath while they dry.

One method of drying to avoid is drying in microwaves. This can cook your herbs and destroy the volatile oils within that give them the rich aromas and flavors. I don't much care for dehydrators (even the ones where temp can be controlled) or the oven method either for the same reason. While these methods do indeed dry the herbs, again, you lose more than you gain with them in my opinion.

Stay away from areas that are prone to molding.

It should only take your herbs a couple of weeks to dry, if they aren't dry then keep checking them every couple of days until they are completely dry. If you're not sure, pluck a leaf and see if you get a satisfying crunch when you crumble it. If it feels a little leathery or it bends and doesn't break at all, give it more time and then check again.

Once dry, storage is just as important as the area they were dried.

Keep your herbs whole until ready for use. This helps them to retain flavor.

Zip top bags are a good choice, air tight jars are another good way to go. My preference is to vacuum sealing them with a food saver.

Store them as you would any other canned food; away from light. This will help them to retain their flavors and oils longer. And don't forget to label and date.