Drying herbs is something any home cook, gardener or DIY enthusiast should have in their arsenal. You’ll save money and reduce waste, of course, but you’ll also have herbs with much more flavor than anything you can buy at the store. After all, dried herbs don’t last forever, and you never know how long those jars have been sitting on the shelf.
What’s more, drying your own herbs is easy and painless — as long as you know what you’re doing. Different herbs require different techniques; some popular herbs don’t usually take well to traditional methods of drying at all. No matter how long you hang basil upside down, for instance, it’s not going to be take on the same consistency as the stuff you can buy at the store. But there are ways to dry basil, and other herbs like it, properly.
Drying Herbs: The Basics
No matter what drying method you are using, there are a few basic steps that need to be followed.
1. If you are harvesting herbs directly from your garden, make sure to pick them at their peak, when their flavor is the strongest. For most herbs, that means when the buds have just appeared, but are not fully open yet.
2. The best, and only, herbs you should dry are fresh herbs. Remove any yellowed, dried or otherwise unhealthy looking leaves.
3. Clean your herbs before drying them. Run the stems under cool, running water, removing any dirt or bugs, and pat dry thoroughly with a paper towel. Herbs should be totally, completely dry before you start the drying process.
Check out the next page for tips on drying out many different kinds of herbs.