Learn how to dry fresh herbs from scratch! Drying herbs naturally or in the oven can help to preserve them for one, even two years. You can use the dried herbs for cooking, to make tea blends or even for medicine!
The Many Benefits of Fresh and Dried Herbs
Herbs are pretty magical. Not only are they a great addition to your meals, they also have a strong healing potential. The health benefits of herbs have now been backed by science. Herbs have also been used in folk medicine for thousands of years when antibiotics weren’t available and modern medicine was non-existent.
I usually use my herbs for cooking. It’s the usual suspects – basil, dill, mint and parsley. Every year, I also like to collect thyme and chamomile – great for inhalations when you have a cough and for tea.
Other medicinal plants I often collect and dry are stinging nettles and smoketree. The nettles taste great in soups and stews with rice and onion. Nettle leaves are very nutritious and have many health benefits including reducing chronic inflammation and preventing anemia.
As for smoketree, you can only use externally. It has many health benefits and it’s a natural disinfectant, but I know it’s toxic if ingested. A daily bath with smoketree has helped me heal a very deep wound on my foot 3 years ago after I had a little accident while helping a friend with construction.
REASONS TO DRY Your Own Herbs
When it comes to fresh herbs, there’s only so much you can use within the day or next few days before the herbs start to wilt. One great way to preserve fresh herbs is drying. I like to dry the herbs I grow late in summer and I never really buy herbs or tea from a store.
The goal of drying herbs and food, in general, is to remove the moisture from the plant to prevent spoiling, while preserving the nutrients. The antioxidants, the microelements, the flavor and the aroma – it all stays inside of the dried plant.
You don’t want to dry your herbs just to prevent them from going bad, you want to maintain the nutrition and flavor of the fresh plant, even better, you want to condense it.
Drying herbs at home can help you:
- preserve and condense the nutrients and flavor of fresh herbs
- save money and always have herbs at home
- control the ingredients and methods used which leads to a better quality of the final product.
How To Dry Herbs At Home
If you’d also like to dry your own herbs here are a few options you can choose from. Be sure to wash your herbs thoroughly before you start.
Option 1: Air-drying Herbs
This is the method I usually go for with all of my herbs. Depending on the type of herb you’re going to dry you have two options – spread over a drying rack or hang in bunches.
Leafy Herbs With Higher Moisture content
If you’re working with leafy plants, with higher moisture content like basil, mint, lemon balm, nettle, bay leaves or parsley you want to spread them out and allow the air to circulate. The reason for this is that you want to achieve even drying and prevent the formation of mold. Binding these herbs in bunches and hanging them in the air won’t allow this to happen.
So here’s how it goes:
For this method, I use an old mosquito net (actually an old window insect screen) that I attached to an old frame and it works perfectly.
I spread out the leaves in a single layer over the surface, not stacking them on top of each other. This way the air can circulate freely to prevent mold and to allow the mint leaves/ sprigs to dry evenly.
My framed net is not very pretty, but it does the job! In case you need instructions and want to make your own herb drying rack, I really like this tutorial.
Herbs To Be Dried In Bundles
If you’re drying herbs with smaller leaves like thyme, rosemary, oregano or dill your best option would be to bundle the stems and to hang the plants. Make sure the place where you hang the plants is dry, with good air circulation and not in direct sunlight.
Option 2: Drying Herbs IN THE OVEN
Another space and time-saving option for drying herbs at home is using the oven. With this option, your dried herbs will be ready in hours, not weeks.
What is important is spreading your washed herbs away from each other, in a thin layer on a cookie sheet or parchment paper and to use a very low temperature.
Preheat your oven to 40-50 C / 105-120 F and let the herbs dry for a few hours. Flip the sprigs throughout the process to speed things up and to allow even drying. Take out of the oven once the herb is fully dry.
How To Store Dried Herbs
Once your herbs are completely dry, it’s time to put them away. I always store my herbs in glass or metal containers in a dark and dry place. I also usually don’t crumble them before using, as I find the aroma lasts longer when I store the leaves whole.
In conclusion, there are many benefits to herbs and using them in medicine, cooking or for tea. Drying is a great way to not only keep the herbs from going bad, but to actually preserve and condense the flavors and the nutrients in herbs, so that you can enjoy their benefits for years.
You Might Also Like
- How To Dry Chamomile For Tea At Home
- Growing Garlic From a Single Clove: How To
- How To Dry Mint For Tea, Cooking And Medicine
- herbs of choice
- If you're working with leafy plants, with higher moisture content like basil, mint, lemon balm, nettle, bay leaves or parsley you want to spread them out in a single layer over a herb drying rack or a mosquito net. This way the air can circulate and will allow even drying of the plant.
- If you're drying herbs with smaller leaves like thyme, rosemary, oregano or dill your best option would be to bundle the stems and to hang the plants.
- In both cases, make sure the place where you dry the herbs is dry, with good air circulation and not in direct sunlight.
Nutrition InformationYield 1 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 5Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 3mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 0g