There’s a lot of talk in the summer about preserving or canning your fruit and vegetable harvest but little talk about how to save the herbs that seem to outproduce everything else. Your herbs deserve preservation also so grab your scissors and some cotton twine. It’s time to jump down that rabbit hole into the world of dried herbs.
Everyone knows how pricey herbs can be at the supermarket, but little did you know, you can have an almost endless supply of dried herbs for the price of just one single plant by the end of summer. Most herbs are great for drying. If you have put the extra time into planting your own herbs or even purchased those pricey bundles of fresh herbs from the farmer’s market, don’t let those bundles turn brown or mushy in the bottom of the crisper drawer.
Every summer I take cuttings from my herbs, tie them into little bundles with some cotton twine, and hang them in a dark, dry room until they are nice and crispy dry. I then take the entire bundle and drop it into a mason jar that I have lined up on the counter. Anytime I need some herbs for a soup or braise, I pull out the bundle and give it a good squeeze. Little bundles of herbal yumminess drop into the pot on on that cut of meat and they add just the right touch of flavor.
The easiest way to dry herbs is to hang them in a warm, dry place. Certain herbs do better with this method than other herbs. There are other options for those more finicky herbs though so keep reading. Low moisture, sturdy herbs lend well to the warm, dry place method: sage, thyme, dill, savory, oregano, rosemary and bay leaves. Others, like basil, tarragon, mint and lemon balm, don’t like the hanging method and will typically mold easily. Use the microwave method for these herbs below.
Make sure your herbs are clean of dirt and bugs. Shake them, rinse them with water, and pat them dry (very dry) with paper towels. Remove any brown or discolored leaves. Tie the herbs in little bundles with some cotton twine or cotton string and hang them up on another piece of string. You can use two chairs that are back to back and tie some string between them to hang the herb bundles on. Don’t crowd them and leave plenty of room for adequate air flow around them.
Leave the herb bundles alone for 1 to 3 weeks. Woodier herbs like rosemary will take longer to dry than the more delicate herbs (like parsley). When the leaves crumble easily between your fingers, your herbs are ready to store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Be sure to clean out those old jars of herbs in the cabinet now to make room for your new dried herbs.
As long as you take good care of your fresh herbs, you will always have a source of dried herbs. This method is also great to use as gifts to friends and family when you have an over abundance of fresh herbs from your super productive herb garden!
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