Herbs are delicious fresh. When growing them in the garden, it’s wonderful to be able to walk outside and get whatever herb I need when preparing food in the kitchen. Preserving your herbs, is a great way to enjoy quality herbs at home anytime of year. Learning how to dry and preserve herbs is a great way to save money, live sustainably and take advantage of the quality herbs in your garden.
Simple Tips to Drying and Preserving Your Herbs
Learning to preserve your herbs is a great way to make them last throughout the year. That way, you always have quality herbs on hand for cooking, soap making, tea blends, and even holistic benefits. Drying is a great way to preserve as anyone can do it and dried herbs can last a while without loosing flavor or nutrients.
Be sure to harvest your herbs before winter hits. I tend to harvest herbs all season long, but cut back my perennial herbs and cut down all my annual herbs before it frosts. I don’t want to miss out on using these great herbs before winter. Each herb is harvested differently, so make sure to harvest the leaves, flowers, stems or roots of your herbs.
Hanging Your Herbs to Dry
Hanging herbs is the most common way to dry herbs. You’ll want to hang the herbs that are harvested on the stem. Common herbs harvesting on a stem include: rosemary, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and oregano. There are many others out there, but these are probably the most common.
In small bunches, tie some twine or jute cord around the base of the stems. Hang your herbs in a dark, cool and dry room. If you do not have a dark room available, wrap your herbs in newspaper or a paper back to protect them from the light.
Herbs can take a few weeks to become fully dried. However, this will vary depending on humidity level and temperature. Check on them once a week until they are fully dried.
Laying Out Herbs to Dry
Many herbs are not capable of being hung to dry. For instance herbs where you harvest the leaves, such as basil,need to be laid out to dry. Flowers, such at chamomile, also need to be laid out to dry. This requires counter-space for weeks at a time.
If you have the space, lay out your leaves on a tea towel or paper towel. You can then cover your leaves with another tea towel or paper towel. This will prevent any dust from falling on your herbs.
Allow your leaves and flowers to dry over a few weeks. Again, the length of time it takes to dry will depend on your temperature and humidity level. Check on them weekly until fully dried.
Drying Your Herbs in a Dehydrator
If you don’t have the space for hanging or laying out your herbs, and are lucky enough to have a dehydrator. Than, using a dehydrator is a great option. Most herbs can be dried at a temperature of 95-115 degrees Fahrenheit. Humid areas may need a bit higher temperature, sitting around 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dry your herbs for about 4 hours. Check them throughout the drying cycle. Some herbs may need more time and some herbs may need less.
Storing Dried Herbs
Dried herbs store best in glass containers. Mason jars can work great is you have a lot of herbs to store. Otherwise, small glass jars for herbs and spices work well too! I store mine in both. The small glass containers go in the kitchen and mason jar storage goes into the pantry.
Herbs should be kept in a cool and dry location, away from the light. Dried herbs can be kept indefinitely. Although, like anything else, dried herbs lose their nutrients and flavor the longer they sit in storage.
Other Methods of Herb Preserving
Drying your herbs is one way to help your herbs last a long time. However, if you’re looking for a fresher way to enjoy herbs throughout the year, try freezing them!
How to Freeze Herbs
My favorite way to freezer herbs is to use an ice tray and oil. Simply take the herbs you love and chop them. Place each herb into an ice cube square of the ice tray. Fill each square with olive oil (or whatever oil you choose) and freeze.
You can either pop out the herb ice cubes and put them into a bag and back into the freezer, or you can store them frozen in the ice tray.
To use: simply add the frozen herbs and oil to your meals during cooking. The flavor will be just like using fresh herbs from your garden.
What Do You Do With Dried Herbs?
Dried herbs offer a multitude of uses. The most common use is culinary. Using herbs in the kitchen provides flavor combinations that you’ll love. Herbs can be added to both sweet and savory dishes and fresh herbs from the garden are the most flavorful way to use them!
Using herbs for crafts, bath products, beauty products and other DIY projects is also common. Many herbs can be added to handmade soaps and lotions to help soothe skin or provide fragrance.
Teas are a popular reason to dry herbs. Tea gardens are a great option is you are an avid tea drinker. Using the freshest ingredients also provides some of the best flavor.
Dried herbs are also commonly used in medicinal and holistic approaches. Many herbs can help provide relief to itching, soreness anxiety and more. Learning to grow and preserve herbs is a great way to provide added options for you and your family.
Learning to dry and preserve herbs is a great way to get the freshest and most flavorful herbs into your home. Dried herbs can be incredibly useful and it’s a great skill to be able to preserve herbs for whatever your needs may be.
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