An herb garden is a delicious addition to any homestead. But what do you do with a bumper crop of oregano, basil, or lavender? Don’t commit the deadly sin of letting your fresh herbs go to waste! You can easily dry today’s fresh herbs to add a splash of seasoning to tomorrow’s home-cooked meals.
How to dry herbs
Before drying your herbs, it’s important to remember that every herb is different. Some herbs, like basil, rosemary, and oregano, have hardier leaves and dry very easily. Delicate herbs like parsley or lemon balm require a more tender touch during the drying process. Know what you’re working with and adjust accordingly! You don’t want moldy or flavorless herbs.
Be sure to harvest your herbs before they bolt, or flower. Once they go to flower, the flavor and texture won’t be the same. Keep the leaves on stems or stalks if possible; they’ll be much easier to work with.
Gently wash the herbs with cold water. Spread them out on a dry kitchen towel and let them dry completely at room temperature. You want as little moisture as possible for the best results. Toss any discolored or squashed leaves.
Tie the herb stalks or stems together with kitchen twine or rubber bands, with about six stems per bundle. Fill a brown paper bag halfway with the herb bundles and fold the bag shut. Don’t overfill your bag! You want enough air to get to the herbs to remove moisture.
Now it’s time to play the waiting game. Store the sacks in a dry, dark cabinet for 2 – 4 weeks until the herbs are totally dry. Once the herbs have dried to your liking, remove the leaves from the stems and process if necessary. Give herbs like basil, parsley, or lavender a good crushing in a mortar and pestle or food processor.
Once the herbs have processed, it’s time to get to the fun part: cooking! Store the herbs in glass Mason jars to preserve their flavor for up to one year. If you still have more herbs than you can use, they make great great gifts!