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How To Dry Herbs

17-Apr-2013 | Contributed by: JJ McConnachie

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Dried herbs hanging

Fresh herbs are often more aromatic than dried herbs, but drying herbs allows you to keep a supply for longer.

If you grow your own herbs for cooking, fresh herbs are much more aromatic than dry herbs. In saying that, many herbs hold their taste and aroma when dried, and if you want to keep a supply, drying them is the best way to do it. 

Take a look at The Rural’s article on the best herbs to dry to help you get started. 

Collect your herbs just before the buds open to get the highest concentration of oils, and the best aroma. It’s also best to pick your herbs mid-morning – after the morning dew has dried from the leaves, but before the sun can dry out the essential oils. 

Only pick the healthiest branches of your herb plant, and remove any yellow or spotted leaves. 

Shake off any insects and soil. If necessary, rinse the herbs with cool water and pat dry. Dry them as best as you can because wet herbs will mould. 

Remove the lower leaves on each branch so that the bottom 2-3 centimetres is clear. Bundle a few branches together and tie with string ribbon, or a rubber band at the bottom of the branches, where you removed the leaves. 

Hang your herbs upside down in bunches to dry in a warm place. The room should be well ventilated, with no direct sunlight. If you do not have any natural ventilation, you can set up a fan in the room. 

 If the room is dusty, and you are concerned that your herbs could be contaminated, you can use paper bags to cover your herbs. To do this, pick paper bags that will allow the bottom 4-5 centimetres of the herbs to hang out. Poke a hole in the bottom of the bag and feed the string tying the herbs together through it. You can then tie the string to a rafter or cord to hang the herbs. 

The herbs will shrink as they dry, so check back every couple of days to tighten the string around the bunches. Leave to dry until the herbs are brittle and crumble easily. 

Once they are dry, check for any signs of mould. Throw out any herbs that have even the slightest hint of mould, and store the rest of your herbs in clean, airtight bottles or jars. The jars should be clearly labelled with the herb’s name, and the date they were picked. After twelve months dried herbs loose much of their taste and smell, so dating the jar is important to know when to throw them out and dry some more.

Store your jars in a dark, cool, dry place.

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