Introduction: Drying Fresh Herbs
Drying herbs is a simple and quick way to store your summer herbs and enjoy their flavor year round.
I've often found that by the end of the summer I've eaten enough pesto to feed an army, and my garden is still producing a plethora of herbs! Which has led me to drying them so that I can enjoy their flavors year round. Drying is just one method out of many to preserve herbs, but I've found it to be incredibly easy and it has a multitude of uses from seasoning your favorite dish to making lavender sachets. Just follow these few simple steps for almost* all of your herbs in your garden this spring and summer.
*NOTE: Although most herbs dry nicely, you'll want to avoid drying herbs like Basil, Tarragon, Chives, and Mint. They of course can be dried, but tend to be a bit more fickle and require a little more attention, so go for it if you are feeling adventurous. It is usually easier to freeze them, and chives can usually only be frozen. There is also a great Instructable here for air drying basil, you'll just need some time!
Step 1: Materials
- Your Favorite Fresh Herbs
- Rubber Bands
- Baker's Twine
- Garden or Kitchen Shears
- Air Tight Storage Containers
- Dish Towel
- Paperclips (not pictured)
Step 2: Wash Your Herbs
Whether your herbs came from your garden, the local farmer's market, or a supermarket, it's important to wash all your herbs. Run them under cold water or submerge them in a bowl of cool water until all of the dirt has been removed.
Step 3: Drying
Dry your herbs by placing and patting them down with a dish towel. You can also place them in a salad spinner and dry them that way. Make sure they are absolutely dry before moving to the next step.
**If your herbs have not totally dried out you will run the risk of mildew during storage later.
Step 4: Bundle
Gather the your herbs together, pinching all of the bases together. Wrap a rubber band tightly around the bases to keep the herbs together.
Get creative! You can also use a twisty tie or hair tie or just tie some string around the base of the herb bundle!
Step 5: Create Your Hooks
In order to hang and dry your herbs you're going to need some hooks. This is where the paperclips come into play. Gently unfold each paperclip so that it looks like the photos above. You should have two opposing hooks once your have stretched it out.
Step 6: Hook 'Em
Take the hooks you have just created using your paper clips and slip them into the rubber bands on your herb bundles. As you hook the rubber band, double check that your hook is facing out, away from your herb bundle.
Step 7: Cut, Slip Knot, and Hang Your Twine
Temporarily place your herb bundles aside and take up your butcher's twine. Cut a section of twine that suits your drying area. Tie a slip knot in each end of the twine. Hang your twine in your desired location--the ideal location should be dry, dark, moisture-free, and well ventilated. You will also want to hang your twine out of the way of kids, pets, and areas of your home that the herbs could get disturbed, jostled, or bumped.
Step 8: Hang and Dry Your Herbs
Double check to make sure your paperclip hanger's hooks are facing away from the herb bundle. Hook your herbs on to your twine. Dry for your herbs for one to two weeks, or until your herbs are completely dry. The time will vary by the type of herb, but I've found that most dry around one week.
You will know your herbs are dry when the leaves are dry and crumble when rubbed between two fingers.
Step 9: Strip Herbs
Strip the dried leaves of the herbs from their stems. This varies for each type of herb. For herbs with lots of little leaves, stripping can be easy by sliding your thumb and forefinger along the stem from tip to base. More difficult herbs like parsley will need the leaves to be plucked from the stems and then potentially chopped if you'd like a smaller dried herb.
Step 10: Storage
Place the dried herb leaves you've just stripped in an air tight jar or container. This will keep additional moisture out and prevent mildew. Label your jars so you don't have to smell check and identify them all later!
Congratulations! You've dried and stored your fresh herbs to enjoy all year long. You'll want to use your dried herbs within a year, which should last you until the next round of fresh herbs from your garden are ready. And as a final note, as the herbs dry, their flavors become more concentrated and potent--A teaspoon of your dried herbs should be equivalent to a tablespoon of fresh herbs.
You're DONE! You've now mastered drying and preserving your spring/summer herb garden so that you can enjoy a kaleidoscope of flavors ALL year long. Enjoy!