How to dry herbs at home

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How to dry herbs at home

What is a homemade pasta sauce without some herbs? What is better than home grown herbs?  The answer to both of those questions – nothing!  You can grow delicious herbs at home and preserve them so that you have herbs all throughout the year.  How to dry herbs at home is an essential skill on the homestead. 

How to dry herbs at home: Getting everyone involved

It is a special thing to get the whole family involved in the different tasks on the homestead.  Our kiddos love jumping in and helping.  Growing and processing herbs at home is a simple and fun do-it-yourself project for the whole family.

How to dry herbs at home: Growing the herbs

The first step is successfully growing a healthy plant. We grow pots full of herbs on the patio, some potted herbs indoors, and raised garden beds specifically for herbs.

One of our favorites to grow in our backyard herb garden is – basil!  We grow tons of delicious basil each year to dry and to use in fresh made pesto.  Try an amazing pesto recipe here!

Another family favorite is Italian Parsley.  We grow a ton of parsley to make my homemade chimichurri, you can try it here!

If you cannot grow your own, you can still dry fresh herbs purchased from the store or farmer’s market.

How to dry herbs at home: Harvesting the herbs

After your plants begin growing big and sturdy you can start harvesting. I like to harvest my basil several times during the summer to promote new growth and to get the most out of it. Each summer we use most of our dill to make homemade pickles and all of our cilantro in fresh made salsa from the garden.

I try to stay on top of my herbs each summer, periodically cutting to promote new growth, and drying it out to use until the next growing season.

How to dry herbs at home: Drying the herbs

Preparing your herbs to be dried can be done in just a few minutes. I rinse them in cool water and pat dry very gently. The next step is gathering the herbs in small bundles and tying the ends together very tightly with yarn or string. Hang herb bundles upside down in a cool dark room in your house. We have tied lines up in a dark basement or in a bright pantry, and both work well. Arrange bundles several inches apart so air can circulate more easily around each one.

Tip: As the herbs dry the stems will shrink, so tie the stems tightly to prevent stalks from slipping out of the bundles.

How to dry herbs at home: Processing and storing the herbs

Herbs should be dried for about 2-4 weeks, then they’re ready to process. After taking herb bundles down from their hanging, begin removing leaves from stems. With most herbs you can hold the stem with one hand and run the fingers of your other hand in the opposite direction of growth to easily remove the leaves. Discard stems or save them for soup stock. Process herbs into small pieces using a food processor, crumbling with your hands, or just leave them large.

We prefer minimal processing so the wonderful fragrance and flavor of the herbs is not lost before we cook with them. We then simply crumble the desired amount into recipes during cooking. Store your herbs in sealed containers and label for future use. I store our herbs in small mason jars or clean, repurposed glass spice bottles. Shaker tops from old parmesan cheese containers make the perfect lid for your own dried herbs.

Do you grow and dry your own fresh herbs? If so, which favorites have you planted this year?

About the author

John grew up on a farm where his family raised chickens, goats, rabbits, and grew a huge garden. John has a family of his own and gardens to know where his food comes from.

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