Tips For Drying Herbs At Home

This month, you may well be eating very well from your garden. But now is the time to think about the cold months ahead and to plan so that you will have something from your garden to eat all year round. Herbs will add flavour and depth to your food throughout the year. Drying herbs will allow you to enjoy them all through the winter, once the fresh summer supplies are finished for the year.

ThymeChoosing Herbs For Drying

Some herbs fare better than others when dried. Amongst the herbs that are perfect for drying are thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, sage, chervil, dill, lovage and lemon verbena. Other herbs, such as basil, parsley, mint, lemongrass and chives can be dried but will lose some of their potency and flavour in the process and so are better frozen.

Air drying herbsAir Drying

The easiest way to dry herbs at home is simply to hang them in bunches upside down, securing them with twine or bands as they dry. The best location for your herbs is somewhere warm and dry – the kitchen is not always ideal as the humidity can be high and there are likely to be many temperature fluctuations. Ideally, the bunches of herbs should be hung out of direct sunlight as the sun can cause them to bleach when they are exposed to too much of it.

Other Drying Methods

The sun can be used to dry herbs quickly, through the use of a solar dehydrator. You can also leave them on a rack in a sunny greenhouse or in your car, though humidity can be a problem. If, as is so often the case, the sun is elusive, you can also dry herbs but putting them in your oven on a low, low temperature. Place the herbs on a cooling rack in the oven to allow for ventilation all round. If your oven will not remain at or around 100 degrees, you may need to prop open the door slightly to make sure you only dry and do not cook the herbs.

Homemade herbsStoring Dried Herbs

It is easy to tell when herbs are fully dry because they will crumble when rubbed between the fingertips, though it is best not to crumble all your herbs until you actually want them. Whole leaves and seeds will better retain their oils than crumbled herbs. That said, it can be useful to make up a few mixes – an Italian herb mix for example – to make it easier and quicker to enjoy your favourite meals. Store dried herbs in sealed jars in a cool place out of direct light.