Drying and Storing Your Herbs Is a Great Way to Save Money. You Can Extend Your Harvest When You Learn to Store Dried Herbs for Optimum Flavor.
Herbs are a big part of my garden. I have all the usual suspects in attendance: rosemary, chives, oregano, and mint, just to name a few.
I like to make herbal tea blends and create my own rubs and spice blends for cooking.
You can dry herbs throughout the season as time allows, it’s easy to do, and it costs less to purchase individual plants than dried herbs from the store.
Your plants will respond to regular cuttings by growing better. It keeps them compact and prevents them from flowering and setting seed.
The benefit of regular harvests? You will have a longer harvest time and more herbs to dry.
There Are Only a Few Rules for Drying Herbs
- Harvest on a sunny day.
- Harvest during a dry day and make sure the leaves are completely dry.
- Wait until the morning dew has evaporated or harvest in the evening before the dew forms.
- There is no need to wash your herbs unless they are very muddy.
- Once harvested keep them out of direct sunlight until you can begin the drying process. I like to use a basket with a towel covering the cuttings.
- Begin drying fresh herbs as soon as possible before they can wilt.
- To prevent the herbs from becoming dark colored, keep them away from sunlight when drying them.
- Also, another common cause for dried herbs going dark brown and losing part of their flavor is a slow drying process (air drying is quite slow)
- The faster you dry your herbs, the more color and aroma you’ll enjoy. So we recommend drying them in a food dehydrator over other methods
- Watch out for the heat when drying your herbs – it shouldn’t been too high; trial and error is best in this case as different herbs have different needs)
Use One of These Methods for Drying Herbs.
1. Hang Dry – Hanging herbs in the kitchen add a homey touch, but leaving them exposed to the air means they will eventually lose their flavor.
To prevent this you should lie them out and sort by size. Bunch four to six stalks together and fasten tightly with a rubber band or twist tie. The rubber band will not come loose as the herbs dry.
It’s best to hang the bundles out of direct sunlight and in a room that will not get too much moisture but has air circulation. Bathrooms are not a good place to dry herbs.
If you are going to hang them to dry in the sun, place them in a paper bag that has several holes for ventilation; attach the bag to a string or clothesline using clothespins.
During the growing season, you can string your own clothesline in an unused room and hang bunches of herbs.
2. Screen Dry – The goal is to allow air circulation all around the screen, and the best way to do that is to keep the drying screens off counters by placing blocks underneath.
Keep them out of direct sunlight while drying.
The herbs can touch each other because they will shrink as they dry. This process will take only a few days.
3. Microwave Drying is the quickest way to get dry herbs.
You can spread a cup of herb leaves in a single layer between paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds.
Check the herbs, turn them over and go for another 30 seconds, if needed. Remove small leaves as they are finished and repeat the process in 30-second increments until the herbs are crackly dry.
This will only take 2 – 3 minutes. Do not over dry or the herbs will get scorched and a fire may start.
4. Dehydrator Drying is easy too. Separate the leaves from the stems and lay them out in a single layer.
It’s okay to have them touch.
Herbs are dried at cooler temperatures than fruits and vegetables.
Start at 95 degrees F. Strong herb flavors should be dried separately from mild herbs that might pick up their flavors.
How to Store Dried Herbs
As soon as you’ve dried your herbs crackly dry, either on the stem or off, remove the leaves from the stalks and be sure and keep the leaves whole.
Crumbling them releases the aromatic oils that you want for your teas, tonics, and lotions. Save crushing the leaves until you are ready to add them to recipes.
You should keep the leaves in airtight containers. Glass is my favorite container for storage. Glass jars work great, but any reclaimed glass container (with a lid) will fit the bill.
Glass works best because metal and plastic can affect the flavor of some herbs. I have saved chopped peppermint in a plastic gallon plastic jug. It’s been in there for a few years.
The herbs are still fragrant, but I will never be able to store anything else in the jar. It’s peppermint or nothing!
The maximum recommended storage time for herbs is one year, so try to grow enough to last harvest to harvest. After one year they will still be good, but they’ll lose their potency and be just not as aromatic.
I use my older herbs for soaps and craft projects. No matter what, your herbs should be stored in a cool, dark place, away from heat.
If you have a bumper crop you can try removing the oxygen and freezing herbs in FoodSaver containers. As long as you keep moisture out of the container, you should be able to get up to 18 months of storage in the freezer.
To use the herbs, just crush the leaves in your hands or powder them in a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin, then measure as directed in your recipe.
Use sparingly, you’ll want about one-third an amount of dried herbs as fresh in your recipes.
Dried Herbs Have Many Uses
- flavored vinegar
- herb flavored oils
- tea blends
- spice blends
These products from Amazon will help you easily dry, process, and store dried herbs:
Don’t miss the freshness you get from drying your own herbs.
A little effort on your part will bring big rewards and have you reaching into the pantry for cooking herbs for the next year.
What other ways have you stored dried herbs?
I’ve never tried drying herbs before. I will have to give this a try!
Hi Lauren, You will be surprised how easy it is to dry herbs. You can’t beat the freshness of growing your own. Thanks for stopping by!
Fredrick Hawthorne says
EDIBLE WILD PLANTS IS A GREAT BOOK TO HAVE!!!!!
I appreciate your thoroughness in explaining how to store herbs. My mom grows a lot of herbs and will find it helpful.
We dry oregano in a warm oven. I also love chopping parsley up fine and freezing it in ice-cube trays for easy use.
Loved this! We have a vegetable garden but haven’t gotten into herbs! When we do, I will definitely be using this as a reference!
LOVE this. We freeze everything, including our herbs. We grow a few different herbs over the summer months, and make sure to freeze enough to have throughout the year.
I may start to dry them, too. It’s nice to have a variety, especially when you’re rushing to get something done and have forgotten to pull the herbs out of the freezer.
I’m not saying that’s ever happened to me, I’m just saying it can happen. ; )
Great tips here Shelle! I like drying mine in a dehydrator. I typically use mine for cooking, but you’ve inspired me to try some new things this year.
What a comprehensive post on herb drying! What about something for those that kill plants before they even begin to bud! That would be me! I am definitely pinning this one! I use herbs in everything I cook, my favorites are basil, rosemary, oregano and cumin!
Michelle Cruz says
This is a great read. I am currently in the process for storing different foods and then this is awesome for herbs. I am excited to try to store them and that way they are around when I need them! LOVE IT! Thank you!
This is so timely for me! I have a small herb garden kit that I’ve been trying to make myself start. I love fresh herbs, and drying them as well. Thanks for the tips!
Cristin @ Pampered Teacher says
Totally fascinating. I pinned this to my garden board. Any interesting uses for dried mint? I grow a ton of it and a lot goes to waste. Thanks!
Hi Cristin, thanks for stopping by. Here are 15 Uses for Mint that you might want to check out. https://preparednessmama.com/uses-for-mint
Jennifer @ Emulsified Family says
What a great idea. I never thought about using the microwave. I’ll have to give that a try. Thanks for such a through post about it!
Beth McIntire says
Great instructions! I’ve never thought about making my own dried herbs.
Amy Coleman says
I have a few go-to herbs I grow each year but never thought about drying them! Genious…I will be doing this from now on!
Trena Quesenberry says
I have not tried growing herbs in our garden, but now that I know how to dry and store them, I will certainly be trying it this year. Thank you!
Val @ Love My DIY Home says
This was very useful info. I dried herbs for the first time last year. I didn’t even think about keeping the leaves whole until you use them. I use a dehydrator, so that’s pretty easy and love the idea of growing and preserving my own herbs. Hopefully we’ll have a better growing season here in Wisconsin so I can do more this year. Your tips are helpful and I’ll pin your post. Thanks.
This is neat. Thanks so much for sharing these great ideas. I’m going to pin this and save it for later!
Phyllis A Sather says
I’ve been wanting to learn more about this for quite awhile. Thanks for sharing. I’ll bookmark it for later use.
good ideas for drying herbs.
I freeze leftover fresh herbs in ice cube containers, with a bit of water. That way you can have herbs in your cooking in the winter.
comment a thon
Awesome tips! I love your site! 🙂 As time goes on, we are becoming more of a preparedness family too! I am bookmarking this site for sure.
Felecia Efriann says
I never tried drying my own herbs. I grow my own herbs and use the herb plant when a recipe calls for fresh herbs. This is so resourceful and something I’m going to try doing. 🙂
Jennifer Corter says
I am definitely bookmarking this post! My husband has been wanting to dry herbs for a long time now, and this post will be SO helpful to him! Thank you!
Lisa @ Saving Cent by Cent says
Love this article! I want to grow herbs this year, and these tips are perfect so I know how to store them.
Keelie Reason says
You know, I used to dry basil leaves on old screens. That worked really well. Good luck on growing and storing this year. I’m ready to get some herbs in the ground soon. I have my rosemary already growing and my oregano in the ground still.
Thanks so much for these tips! My husband and I will be growing some herbs this year in our garden, so this is great to know! I’m pinning it for easy reference later 🙂
Angela McKinney says
I have not tried to dry herbs but I do not really use herbs much. I am wondering how they can be used in soap though.
Whitney McGruder says
I’ve never considered this before, but I gotta try it now. I didn’t even know there were so many ways to prepare and store the herbs. I’ll be coming back for future reference!
I love using herbs but I have never tried to grow or dry my own yet but that is definitely in my plan. I will put this in my pocket for future reference. Thanks for sharing this with us!
Barbara J says
I have never dried herbs before. This seems interesting.
The Screenwriter's Wife says
ooh, I did not know you could dry herbs in the microwave! I will have to try that!
Crystal Green says
Herbs fascinate me, but I’ve never done much with them at all. I can remember having a herb garden as a little girl, but that was many moons ago. My MIL plants herbs quite a bit still, but she hasn’t taught me much about them either. (Of course, that’s because I have never shown enough interest.)
Elizabeth Duke says
I’m glad that I found this post. My husband has been wanting to grow an herb garden for a very long time now. I think he will find these tips very helpful, so I will be sharing this with him. Thank you.
michelle h says
Thanks for these tips. I’ve grown herbs in the past and always end up letting them die off because I can’t use them fast enough. This will be really helpful.
Christina Sandema-Sombe says
I’m at the point of wanting to start my own garden, so this is really helpful for me to start thinking about strage and preserving the harvest
Alice @ Earning My Two Cents says
Thanks for the tips! I am going to start an herb garden soon. So excited!
I’ve never tried homemade dried herbs. I normally use store bought but these are some great tips. I might have to give it a shot. Thank you for sharing.
Bonnie Way says
Great ideas! I’ve grown herbs once or twice but then I don’t use them fresh and didn’t know how to dry them, so I felt like I was wasting them. With these tips, maybe I’ll try growing herbs again. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing!
Pam McCormick says
Great “how-to” for someone like me who has never dried herbs. 🙂 I also love the look they have when wrapped with a ribbon (especially lavender) 🙂
Monique Muro says
These are great! I had no idea you could dry your own herbs, and use them for things like shampoo and soap, this is such an informative post! I’m so used to buying them at the store, and didn’t even realize it was something you could do at home. Thanks so much for this, I know a few people who would definitely get some good use out of this post! 🙂 Also, great to meet you virtually 🙂
Melissa Vera says
I have never tried my hand at drying herbs but I might after reading this post.
Deborah Davis says
This is such a comprehensive overview of how to store dried herbs. I am so delighted that you shared these valuable
tips on with us at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop! I’m pinning and sharing!
I like this. I have been using a dehydrator for years and it is great. I like the list of uses for the herbs. I grew about 140 garlic plants last year. I cut them into thin parts and dry them for powder. A coffee grinder works great for making the powder. Just did basil, and mints are next. I would like to see a herb list here with uses for each one in the menu. Great site !
Thanks for stopping by Bob!
A lot of recipes I see states when using dried herbs in oils I need to eventually remove them. Can I keep the dried herb in the oil for the decorative look?
Asia, if you will be using the oil for cooking, the herbs do need to be removed. Keeping them in the oil increases the risk of botulism. Oil’s oxygen-free environment is perfect for growth of the
bacteria. For this reason, herbs and vegetables in oil must be stored correctly to prevent botulism food poisoning. Better to be safe than sorry!
Earth Friendly Goodies says
Really some great tips. I wasn’t aware they lose their flavor if left to dry too long. I’ve used a toaster oven as well with the heat down low – dries them out pretty quickly – although if not careful they can get a little burnt (not that I’ve done that of course 🙂