How to Dry and Store Your Homegrown Herbs


Learn how to dry and store your own homegrown herbs.

How to dry homegrown herbs


One of the raised beds in my garden is devoted to herbs, and there are small pockets of lemon balm and catnip that have "gone wild" here and there in the yard. I've been using my homegrown herbs fresh all summer as well as drying them for use over the winter.

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


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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 special equipment used is a dehydrator, but I'm going to show you several ways to dry your homegrown herbs that don't require a dehydrator.

Whichever method you use to dry your herbs, harvest your plant material in the morning to retain all the scent and flavor, after the dew has dried.

If you're harvesting leaves, do so before the herbs begin to flower. By cutting your herbs back several times over the summer, you'll have several harvests and plenty of leaves to dry to use over the winter.

After cutting, remove any dirt, wilted leaves, bugs, etc from your herbs. Strip the clean, dry leaves from the stems, and lay them in a single layer to dry.

Hanging Herb Bundles


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.



Dry Herbs in a Dehydrator


Lay the clean, dry herbs on your dehydrator rack and dry at the lowest temperature possible. I use my L'equip dehydrator that has a thermostat I can adjust.

Cheaper dehydrators often only have one heat setting, or a choice of Low and High heat. The lower the heat setting you can use, the better.

For very small-leaved herbs such as thyme, set a fruit leather sheet on the tray before adding your herbs so they won't fall through the openings in the tray.


Here's how and when to harvest your herbs, and how to dry them so they'll last all winter.


Oven Drying


After you've made dinner and turned off the oven, lay your herbs on a cookie sheet and set 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.

(Don't forget that your herbs are in the oven the next day and turn it on to preheat to cook something else!)

The Redneck Dehydrator


Don't laugh, this really works well.

Lay your herbs on cookie sheets or in paper bags and put them in your vehicle on a sunny day. You know how hot it can get inside your car on a summer afternoon! Added bonus: your car will smell heavenly.

The length of time this method will require depends on what kind of herbs you're drying, the climate where you live and how hot and humid it is that day. Check on your herbs periodically and remove from the vehicle when they are dry.

Air Drying


This is the best way to dry small leaves such as thyme and oregano. For the small-leaved herbs, lay the stems with leaves on a towel; for larger herbs 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, depending on the size and thickness of the leaves, and how many you are drying. Stir them up gently each day with your fingers, so that they are rotated and all sides of the leaves are exposed to the air.

When dry, remove the tiny leaves such as thyme from the stems.


Lay herb leaves in a single layer and let them dry for several days.


How to store your dried, homegrown herbs


When your herbs are dry, store them in containers with lids. Mason jars are ideal. Label the jars so you'll know what's inside - don't rely on your memory!

Don't crumble the leaves until you're ready to use your herbs in a recipe; whole herbs keep better and retain their color, fragrance and flavor longer than crushed herbs.

Store your homegrown herbs in a dark, cool place. Use your home-dried herbs within a year for the best quality.

When you open a jar and inhale the lovely scents, you'll be transported back to summer.


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You spent all summer growing those herbs; here's how to harvest, dry and store your homegrown herbs to last all winter!



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


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39 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. Anonymous9:10 AM

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

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  28. I use a dehydrator, it's 89 F. with chances of showers this is normal for my area. To humid for any other way.

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  29. Your redneck dehydrator method cracks me up! I've only used my dehydrator. I'm afraid that we are too humid to hang dry too much. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday blog hop!

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  30. Good tips. I was gifted a lavender plant and hope to dry some. When is a good time to cut it?

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    1. Julie, Keep an eye on your lavender plant in the spring and cut the stems when the flowers have just opened. The plant may have enough time to produce a second harvest later in the year if you're lucky. :-)

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  31. Hi Kathi,
    Very good article. I grow certain herb like peppermint am never sure how preserve so I have some for Winter use. THis is very helpful. Congratulations on being featured on Homestead blog hop. Shared on twitter & pinned.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Marla. I'm glad it was helpful. Thank you for sharing!

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  32. Thanks for sharing Kathi. Visiting you on FB from Natural Living Bloggers Helping Each other. Great info and pinned your pin.

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