How To Dry Herbs
by Ruby Bayan
Herbs are best used fresh, but if
you're lazy to go up to the garden on the roof, when it's too cold
outside, or you just love a well-stocked herb and spice rack, dried
herbs are a good alternative. Besides, dried herbs have uses where
fresh counterparts simply can't be considered.
Whether you harvest your herbs from your garden or the vegetable
vendor, drying some for future use is always a good idea. Here's how:
- Gather the sorted stems and group them into small bunches.
- Tie the stalk end of each bunch with a string.
- Hang the tied bunches (leaves pointing downwards) in a warm
well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight.
- Space the bundles so that they can dry quickly and avoid getting
- Some herbs dry in a week, some longer. They should be ready for
storage when they become brittle to the touch.
Once the herbs are dry, it's best to transfer them to sealed containers
to protect them from dust and deterioration. Remember to label your
Strip the dry leaves off the stems. You can keep the leaves whole,
slightly crushed, or finely crushed, depending on your preference. Bay
leaves are usually stored whole, because in cooking, most chefs prefer to
drop whole leaves.
Store the herbs in a dark place if your containers are clear; light
hastens the deterioration of the herb aroma and flavor. In any case,
replace your dried herbs after a year.
Things to remember:
- Moisture will promote the growth of mildew on the drying herbs.
- Drying quickly helps preserve color and flavor.
- A pinch of dried herbs gives the same flavor and aroma as a small
handful of fresh leaves.
Tips for drying:
- Consult herb reference guides on the best time to harvest plants and
flower stalks for drying.
- If you're drying herbs that have seeds that might fall off in the
drying process, wrap a paper bag around the bunches to catch the seeds.
Cut several holes on the paper bag to allow air circulation.
Uses of dried herbs:
- Seasoning and remedies during wintertime or when fresh herbs are not
- Herbal teas and baths
- Potpourri, sachets, and moth bags
- Wreaths and other projects
Some herbs that dry well:
- Lemon Balm
Some herbs that don't dry well (they lose their flavor):
- Dill (use the seeds)
- Fennel (use the seeds)