How to dry your own herbs

Amy Vowles

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Whether you grow them in your own garden or buy them fresh from the store, it always seems like some of your fresh herbs go to waste. If you dry them yourself, you know your pantry will always be stocked with all of the savory spices you love.

Dried mint

If you really enjoy cooking with fresh herbs, you probably find yourself buying them fairly frequently from the grocery store. Unfortunately, most recipes only call for one or two sprigs or a handful of leaves per dish. Unless you plan carefully, or plan on doing a lot of cooking, the big bunch of fresh herbs you brought home from the store will likely go bad before you can use it all. Fresh herbs can be expensive, so rather than letting them spoil and being forced to throw them away, try using the leftovers to dry your own herbs instead!

Preparing your herbs

Herbs dry best when they are at their peak of freshness. Rinse your fresh herbs under cool water to make sure they are clean. Pat the herbs dry with a towel to remove any excess water and remove any withered or damaged leaves and stems before drying.

Don't think you have a green thumb? Learn how to grow your own herbs. >>

Air drying

Air drying is by far the simplest and most accessible form of herb drying, but it also takes the most time. Air drying works best in climates where there is relatively low humidity. If you choose to air dry outdoors, be sure that the temperature outside is not so high that the herbs wither and burn before they are able to dry. To air dry, simply arrange your herbs into small bunches. Use twine, yarn or any other string you have available, and tie the stems together as tightly as possible so that the bundle does not come undone when the stems shrink as they dry. Hang your herbs upside down and away from direct sunlight. With the air drying method the entire drying process should take approximately 4 weeks.

Even if you don't have garden space you can grow herbs indoors. >>

Oven drying

Oven drying is a wonderful method because you don't need any appliances beyond those that you already have in your kitchen. After you have prepped your herbs, lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F and dry the herbs in the oven with the door slightly open for 3-4 hours.

Learn more tips for preserving herbs at home. >>

Dehydrator drying

Dehydrating in a tabletop food dehydrator is a very efficient way of dehydrating your herbs. Multiple trays on a food dehydrator mean you can dry lots of herbs at one time. They also have precise temperature control and can circulate the air for optimal drying. Dehydrators are widely available and range in price from $30 for a basic model to upwards of $200 for professional grade versions. Set the thermostat on your dehydrator between 95 and 125 degrees F. Use the higher setting in more humid climates and the lower setting in drier climates. Drying times vary according to the model of your dehydrator, so be sure to reference your instruction manual for drying times and check the herbs regularly to avoid over-drying.

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Amy Vowles
Amy is a stay-at-home mommy to her 1-year-old daughter, Hailey Mae. She is a lover of all things domestic and blogs about her cooking, crafting, and parenting adventures on her personal blog, The Artful Blogger.