September 8, 2014

How to Dry Homegrown Herbs


I've had a few herbs growing on my kitchen windowsill for years, and this year I greatly expanded my herbs with a container garden. I've been using them fresh all summer. Now that autumn isn't far off, it's time to harvest and dry them for use over the winter and beyond.

This year I am drying lemon balm, catnip, basil, calendula flowers, rosemary, rose petals, paprika and cayenne peppers.


There are many ways to dry herbs, and I think I've used them all at one time or another. All are easy. The only one using special equipment is if you want to use your dehydrator.

The methods below are best for drying leaves. Whichever method you use, harvest your herbs in the morning to retain all the scent and flavor. Remove any spots, wilted leaves, bugs, etc. Strip the clean, dry leaves from the stems, and lay them in a single layer to dry.

Oven Drying

After making dinner and turning off the oven, lay your herbs on a cookie sheet and leave it in the cooling oven overnight. By morning they'll be dry. Just wait until the oven cools off a bit before putting the cookie sheet inside; you don't want to cook your herbs.


Hanging in Bunches

Cut several stems off your plant (do not remove the leaves), tie the stems together with string, and hang in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place until dry. Small bundles work best, allowing air to circulate around each stalk.


Dehydrator

Lay the clean, dry herbs on your dehydrator rack and dry at the lowest temperature possible.


Redneck Dehydrator

Lay out the herbs on cookie sheets or in paper bags and put them in your vehicle on a sunny day. Added bonus: your car will smell heavenly.


Air Drying

I use this method a lot for small amounts, and it is the best way to dry small leaves such as thyme and oregano. For the small-leaved herbs, I lay the stems with leaves on a towel; for larger herbs I strip the leaves and lay them in a single layer in a flat-bottomed bowl or on a tray. Then just wait until they are dry. This can take several days.



Storage

When your herbs are dry, move them into containers with lids. Mason jars are ideal. Label and store in a dark, cool place. Don't crumble the leaves until you're ready to use; whole herbs keep better and longer than crushed herbs. Use your home-dried herbs within a year for the best quality.

When you open a jar and inhale the lovely scent, you'll be transported back to summer. You're welcome.


You might also enjoy:
The New Herb Garden
The Herb Garden in June
The Herb Garden in July
The Herb Garden in August
The Herb Garden in Late September
Ten Ways to Use Basil
How to Dry Homegrown Herbs
DIY Cayenne Pepper Powder
Harvesting the Herb Garden

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

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30 comments:

  1. I've always loved the way dried herbs look hanging in bunches. My mom had an "herb rack" in my childhood home and everytime I see dried herbs, I think of her. I liked your redneck dehydrator method too ;) Found your blog on the Mostly Homemade Monday's link up!

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  2. Amanda, I love how drying racks full of herbs look in a home, as well as seeing them hanging from a ceiling beam. And yes, that redneck dehydrator is sure handy. I knew a woman who had a non-running van on her property, so she gutted the inside and added shelves so she could have a walk-in dehydrator! Thank you so much for stopping by, I hope you'll come back again sometime.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your tips! My age old question is always, do you wash first or not? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't (like the day after a rain)... What are your thoughts on this?

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  4. I've struggled with that question too, Jes. If the herbs are gritty with dirt I do rinse them off, then lay them on a towel and cover with another. Since I'm drying them anyway, I let them wilt a bit in the towels before I prepare them for drying or dehydrating.

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  5. Kathi,

    I am blessed with a sun room that gets very hot at times, so my herbs dry really well there.

    I love your herbs over your sink...I have never grown them indoors but I think I will try that!

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  6. Tracy, that's the only window in my house that my cats can't access (they're not allowed on the counters) so it's a safe place to grow herbs. It's east-facing and close to water, so it's perfect! My herbs grow well there, but it looks like a jungle.

    I hope your kitchen window will be as perfect for herbs as this one is.

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  7. I always forget to dry my herbs before we get our first frost! Great tips, I am looking forward to saving my herbs :)

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  8. I hope you remember this year, Marysa!

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  9. This is such a helpful post. I can't wait to try some of these methods. I live in an apartment so the dehydrator and oven methods could work well. So glad I hopped by from Simply Natural Saturdays.

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  10. Just dropping in to tell you, your one of the featured posts at the Tuesday Garden Party in the morning! Beautiful indeed! xxx....Brooke from
    Creative Country Mom's Home and Garden.

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  11. I love fresh herbs and that "redneck" method is the best! LOL!

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  12. Doesn't the vehicle smell wonderful, JP?

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  13. This is such great info! Love the car drying idea. I've never dried my own herbs but want to start; so thrilled to find this post :).

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  14. I'm glad it was helpful! Which method do you plan to use?

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  15. Thanks so much for these great tips!

    By the way, I'd love to have you share some posts at my new blog hop—The Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home (www.myflagstaffhome.com). It begins on Thursday evening and lasts through the weekend, if you're interested.

    Jennifer

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  16. Thank you, Jennifer, and I'll stop by this weekend to link up a post a two. Good luck with your new blog hop.

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  17. Love the Redneck dehydrator method. Thanks for linking up at the Tuesday Garden Party!

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  18. It's pretty ingenious, isn't it, Shelly? It really works too, and the car smells good too.

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  19. So many great and simple ways to dry herbs! I think I need to try the "redneck" method. ;0D

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    Replies
    1. I always thought it was complicated and mysterious but it's eaay. I hope you'll give it a try.

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  20. Great ideas. I especially love the "redneck dehydrator"! LOL I might have to try that one!

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday. I hope you'll join us again this week!

    Lisa

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  21. Thank you, Lisa. That redneck method is quite popular, and cheap since we all have a vehicle and solar heat!

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  22. Thanks for sharing this great informative post with us at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

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  23. Congrats! You are this weeks feature on the (mis)Adventures Mondays Blog Hop. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I have never done this and you have peeked my interest to give it a go!

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  24. Thank you, Mandy! I can't wait to see it!

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  25. Hi Kathi! Although I have grown my own herbs for years, I have never dried them. Having read your post, I think I'm definitely going to try this year! Pinning this post and I plan to feature it at the Hearth and Soul Hop later today. Thank you so much for being a part of our Hearth and Soul hop community :-)

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  26. Thank you, April, I'm excited for this week's hop!

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  27. Thank you so much! I love your "Redneck Dehydrator!!" We live in Arizona & that would work fabulously!

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    1. You live in a perfect place for a redneck dehydrator!

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