There’s nothing like fresh herbs to take your dishes to the next level! By adding fresh herbs at the end of the cooking process or using them as a garnish, they will undoubtedly make your dishes much more flavorful and attractive.
Unfortunately, fresh herbs are as rare as they are essential in cooking. Sure, you could read up on herbal gardening blogs to get you started on growing herbs in your home, but they don’t live very long. If you don’t use every her in your garden in all your meals, you’ll be wasting your efforts growing them!
On the bright side, you can preserve your herbs by drying them. Although dried herbs are only second-best compared to fresh ones, they will still add a nice touch of flavor to your meals. With dried herbs, you can enjoy the convenience of having herbs at your disposal!
Preparing for Herb Drying
Drying herbs sounds simple to do, but it requires careful planning. Timing is everything—the herbs should be picked before the flowers develop and harvested on warm, dry mornings. Keep in mind that each herb grows differently, so you must pick and prepare them one variety at a time.
To prep your herbs for drying, make sure to discard damaged leaves and strip large-leaved herbs from their stalks. On the other hand, leave small, feathery herbs on the stalks until the drying is completed.
If this is your first time drying herbs, we recommend starting with small-leaved herbs like tarragon, lemon balm, bay, mint, and rosemary, as they are easy to air-dry.
The Different Drying Methods
1. Hanging Dry
This method involves tying sprigs or branches into small bunches and hanging them to dry. The leaves must be hung downward, wrapped loosely in thin paper bags or muslin to protect them from dust and catch falling leaves or seeds. Plastic bags are not ideal for drying herbs, as they promote mold growth.
Depending on the branches’ sizes and the humidity in your place, leave the herbs to dry for around seven to ten days. If the leaves create a crisp sound when crushed, your herbs are thoroughly dried and ready to be stored.
2. Rack Drying
If you want your herbs to dry up faster, we suggest drying them by spacing out individual leaves or sprigs of herbs on racks. You can make a drying rack by stretching muslin, netting, or cheesecloth of a wooden frame and fixing it in place.
Make sure to place the tray in the warming drawer of an oven, an airing cupboard, or any warm, well-ventilated area out of the direct spotlight. Remember to turn the leaves frequently for even drying. After two to three days, your herbs are ready!
3. Oven Drying
Some herbs, such as sage, rosemary, mint, thyme, and parsley, are ideal for oven drying. To oven dry herbs, space out the leaves on a tray covered in muslin. Be careful with setting the heat, as you could quickly burn the herbs—ensure that the oven is set at the lowest possible temperature.
After 30 minutes, turn the leaves over to evenly dry them. Within the hour, the herbs are dry enough. Leave the herbs to cool afterward.
Although fresh herbs are not always available, you can still have a delicious dish infused with herbs as long as you have a collection of dried herbs! Drying herbs is perfect for preserving your greens for a long time. As long as you grow your herbs well and store them properly, you’ll be able to cook different kinds of meals with herbs for the months to come!
If you’ve been meaning to grow herbs in your home, check out our herbal gardening tips at Blossom & Broom! Our home and lifestyle blog is dedicated to promoting an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle that you can reference when creating your own garden at home. Visit our herbal gardening blog for more tips!