Fresh herbs can be a delicious add on to almost any dish, however often they’re not always readily available. Depending on where you live, and your climate, you can’t always get your hands on the fresh herbs you’re craving. There might also be times when you have too many fresh herbs to eat before they go bad, particularly if you grow them in your own indoor or outdoor garden. A great way to bridge this gap between abundance and the leaner times of year is to dry them, and that’s exactly what we’ll be covering below.
How to Dry Herbs At Home
There are several different methods you can use to try drying your own herbs. The first is the hanging/air drying method.
Air Drying Method
Air drying is great because it does not deplete the oils that occur naturally in the herb (which is where all the flavor comes from). While you can use this method for almost any herb, we do recommend those varieties with lower moisture content. These herbs include dill, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and oregano.
While the process is fairly simple, you’ll need to plan ahead and allow for enough time. First, thoroughly wash the herbs with water and lay them out or pat to dry. When these herbs are dry, tie them together in a bundle and tie the stems together. Hang them upside down near a window for 5-7 days in the sunlight. They should be crisp and crumble easily.
If you’re looking for a quick way to dry herbs, this is the way to go! This method is better for herbs with lower oil content like parsley, mint, and oregano. (Check out the seeds we sell here). Start small to figure out the right timing (time will vary microwave to microwave) so that you don’t ruin the whole batch and can try out some test runs. To begin the process, spread your herbs out on a plate between two towels (to absorb moisture). Microwave on high for 20 seconds and then check to see where they are at. The towel should be moist and the herbs will be dry and crumbly when they’re done. Repeat as you test until herbs are completely dry. Be careful, as more delicate herbs can catch fire if you leave them in the microwave for too long!
The Freezer Method
One alternative method if you don’t have a microwave, and you don’t want to wait for them to air dry is the freezer method. This method is great for herbs with a higher moisture content like Basil, Tarragon, Mint, Rosemary, Chives, and Thyme. You can freeze herbs by either laying them flat on a freezer tray, and then storing them an airtight container, or chop the herbs and freeze them in an ice cube tray filled with oil (we find that extra virgin olive oil works best). This is great because they are already pre-portioned when you want to use them.
How Long Will Dried Herbs Last?
Once the drying and storage process is complete, it’s time to use your herbs! When you have a recipe you need them for, simply crumple the leaves in the pot, skillet, or specific food. Use about 1 teaspoon crumbled dried leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh herbs. You should use your dried herbs within a year. A good gauge for whether they are still good to eat is their color. As they start to lose their color, they will also lose their flavor.
How to decide which dried herbs to use for your recipes?
This is the best part! There are endless uses for dried herbs. Try some dried parsley in our Apple Parsley Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe, or use dill to give a Scandinavian touch to fish, egg dishes, and potatoes. Dried Oregano is a staple, as it is generally considered better dried than fresh. Try this herb in Italian and Mexican cooking, especially with tomatoes and cheese! Dried thyme is great in any chicken dish, and well as in dressings and casseroles. Tear or shred dried lime leaves into Thai soups and curries for a distinctive citrus flavor. Finally, use dried rosemary for slow-cooked dishes (particularly Italian-style soups, stews, braises, and lamb dishes).
There you have it. Everything you need to know to get started on drying your own herbs. If you’re low on herbs, why not try an herb gardening kit? Grow your own culinary herbs and more so that you always have a plethora of fresh herbs at your fingertips!