Learning how to dry your own herbs is a great way to preserve leftover herbs that you might have from your garden or a shop. This way, you can keep them for later use and add them to your cooking when you need them. I use herbs in cooking all the time, they add amazing flavour and herbs help me to use less salt.
So, how do you dry herbs? Is is as easy to just leave them on the paper and let them to dry? Yes, and no…
Why dry your own herbs?
- Use up leftover fresh herbs
- Save money
- Easy to do
Which herbs are best to dry?
Not every herb is suitable for drying, for example chives go brown when you try to dry them naturally, so you are better off chopping them up and freezing them.
- Dill (seeds and leaves)
- Lemon Balm
How to harvest your herbs
I’m going to assume, that most of the time, you will have leftovers of herbs from your shopping trip, but if you are lucky enough to grow your own herbs, here is what to do:
- Best to collect in the morning (for flowers, stems or leaves)
- Harvest during the main growing season
- Roots are best harvested in autumn/winter, when the plant strength (and nutrition) has been drawn into the root system.
How to dry your herbs
Drying herbs naturally
This is the easiest way to dry your herbs, which doesn’t cost anything and it’s very environmentally friendly.
Simply collect your herbs and bundle them together into small bouquets and tie with a string. Hand upside down, somewhere in the shade, but warm. If you have an attic or dry outdoor shed, you can use those, but its also perfectly fine to leave your herbs to dry indoors.
If you are trying to dry root herbs naturally, cut them thinly into slices (such as ginger root) and leave them to dry on a wire rack lined with paper towels (to give allow air to circulate). You can place your wire rack in a warm area of your house, for example in a warm cupboard.
To dry herbs naturally takes anything from 2 days to 3-4 days (for the roots).
Drying herbs in oven
Another easy way is to dry herbs in the oven. One thing you need to be careful about is not to heat up your own too high and watch for the herbs, so that they don’t burn. Otherwise, drying herbs in oven is a great way of drying a large amounts of herbs or when you don’t have a warm and dry place where you can dry herbs naturally.
Drying herbs in microwave
You need to be super careful about drying herbs in the microwave as you only need 30-40 seconds to completely dry them (otherwise they burn easily).
To dry your herbs in the microwave, you simply need to place your herbs on a paper kitchen towel (small/large enough to fit into your microwave, whilst making sure the microwave plate can turn freely).
Pick off individual leaves and spread them on to the baking parchment, making sure that the leaves don’t overlap.
Cover with another paper kitchen towel, to prevent the herbs burning and carefully put the two layers of the paper with the herbs into your microwave.
Microwave for 20 seconds at a time and always check what progress the herbs made. Move them around to prevent them from getting too hot and place back in the microwave. Add another 20 seconds for light herb leaves (like basil, mint or parsley).
You know when the herbs are done when they reduce in size and they feel dry to touch. It’s best to leave them to dry for few minutes in a room temperature (as there might be still a moisture from the microwave) and then store them in an airtight container.
Drying herbs in dehydrator
This is a very quick and save way to dry your herbs, but not everyone has a dehydrator. If you do, just add your herbs and switch it on a lowest setting. Dehydrator is great for drying out root herbs, such as root dandelion (to make coffee) or ginger root.
How to store dry herbs
Store your dry herbs in airtight container, such as clean jam jar with a lid or paper bag that’s stored in a dry environment.