Drying an abundance of herbs from your outdoor or indoor herb garden is a great way to enjoy them all year long. Dried herbs can be used in cooking as well as infused into different cooking oils. They can also be used to clean the house or provide fragrance in small spaces. But you may be asking yourself, how do I dry herbs? Better yet, how do I store herbs after drying? Can I really dry and store herbs at home? Yes, you can! In fact, we've compiled 5 easy ways to dehydrate and store herbs, so you can enjoy fresh flavor all year long!
Drying your herbs the old fashioned way is a great way to keep their overall integrity. It is a slower process, but will result in fully dried herbs that haven’t been tampered with. To air dry, simply bundle a few stems together with a rubber band. Cut holes into a paper bag and place the herbs upside down inside the bag. Tie the end of the bag to the end of the bunched stems and store in a warm room with a lot of ventilation. Label the bag and let them dry for a few weeks.
Using a food dehydrator is a great way to quickly dry herbs if you have an abundance of them from the garden. Pre-heat the food dehydrator to 95°F-115°F. Then, simply rinse off the herbs and lightly shake them to remove any extra moisture. Place them in a single layer within the dehydrator making sure the stems aren’t touching each other. Drying times will vary depending on the type of herb used, so keep an eye on the dehydrator and check them in about an hour. Dehydrating shouldn’t take more than 4 hours.
Another way to dry herbs is by using the oven on a low temperature setting. Place herbs on a cookie sheet in a layer that doesn’t exceed one inch deep. Preheat the oven at 180°F or lower in order to slowly dry the herbs without cooking them. Check the oven often and after a few hours, make sure that they have dried enough by testing a leaf. You’ll know it is ready when the leaf easily crumbles in your hand.
Dried herbs are best when stored in airtight containers like glass canning jars. Place whole leaves in jars and secure with a tightly fitting lid. Label the jar and store in a dark, cool place. Storing whole leaves and crushing them once you’re ready to use them will help herbs retain more flavor. Dried herbs are good for about a year, but make sure to discard any leaves that are discolored or appear damaged in any way.
Herbs can also be stored in plastic bags. You can do this with whole leaves or leaves still on the stem. If you have a vacuum sealer, consider using it to take the air out of the bag which will help retain freshness. Store the bags lying flat in a dry, cool area like the inside of a pantry or cupboard.
By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to successfully dry and store your own herbs. Enjoy the taste and beauty that dried herbs can provide well beyond the normal growing season.
Katie Kuchta is a gardening guru, outdoor living expert, and self proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos, follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.
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