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Culinary Techniques With Herbs: How to Air Dry Your Own Herbs

Updated on March 9, 2011

Culinary Basics - How to Air Dry Herbs

Whether you have fresh herbs from your garden or you are purchasing herbs from the local farmer’s markets or grocery stores, you can dry your own herbs and keep them for at least a year.

There are of course simpler methods to drying herbs – you can purchase a commercial dehydrator and dry herbs very easily and in large batches.

Or you can also dry them the old fashioned way – by air drying. Air drying leaves more of the herb oils behind and thus enhances the inherent flavor of the herbs.

You can also dry herbs in the oven.

courtesy wikicommons
courtesy wikicommons

WHAT HERBS WORK BEST FOR AIR DRYING?

Air-drying herbs will work for any herbs, though chives are best frozen.

Several herbs such as basil, tarragon and mint do not dry as quickly because they have more moisture in them. (These herbs are excellent candidates for oven drying!)

The ‘best’ herbs for air drying include sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary and marjoram but I have had huge success with even the moister herbs - but we live in a dry climate.

The important factor for drying herbs by the air method is to remember to hang them high and make sure they are in an airy place that has good circulation of air.



HOW TO AIR DRY HERBS

  • Cut herbs about mid morning when leaves are dry
  • Harvest with stems as long as you can get them
  • Shake them gently to knock off any insects or dirt
  • Rinse herbs in cool water and place on towels or paper towels. Let the herbs lay on the towels and pat gently to dry
  • I put my herbs in a salad spinner and spin gently to get more water off
  • Leave herbs exposed to air for a few hours to allow more moisture to evaporate
  • Turn the herbs upside down and hold by stem
  • Remove some of the leaves near the base of the upside down stem to give you a good ‘stalk’ to tie the herbs together
  • Tie together 5-6 stalks of herbs dependent on the size of herbs and their moisture. You want air to circulate all around the herbs for the best drying
  • Take a paper bag and put holes in it - cut small holes with scissors or poke holes with a pencil or nail
  • Enclose the herbs in the paper bag, scrunch the paper bag closed and tie with string or kitchen twine
  • Don’t over-stuff the bags with herbs as it reduces circulation.
  • Fewer branches are better for higher moisture herbs per bag
  • Hang in a high, airy place – the herbs should be dried in 2-3 weeks

DRIED HERB TIPS

  • 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon dried herbs
  • Chives don’t dry well and should just be washed, dried and frozen for future use
  • Store in airtight containers or zip-lock freezer bags
  • Dried herbs do best when kept away from the light – such as a darkened cupboard
  • Add dried herbs the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to get the most flavor from them
  • Crushing or grinding herbs reduces the flavor. They retain more flavor by keeping the leaves whole when dried
  • Sage actually becomes more flavorful the longer it is stored!

SUMMING IT UP

If you enjoy cooking, there is nothing like having your own fresh herbs to help create your healthy recipes. With just a little effort, you can have enough herbs to last a whole year before the next summer season of planting and harvesting more.

Part of culinary basics is knowing what herbs go with what foods, also knowing how to use fresh herbs versus dried herbs.

Growing your own urges you to try new recipes and be creative.  Because I had so much dried mint (you can only drink so much of it in tea), I found a delightful summer salad to use it in.

Use your imagination and you'd be surprised how much fun it is to grow and harvest your very own herbs!

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    • toomuchmint profile image

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Great hub! I finally figured out drying is the best way to keep my garden under control, and keep me supplied with herbs all winter long.

      You mentioned a great summer salad with mint. Do you still have the recipe?

    • akirchner profile image
      Author

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Thank you, Pamela!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      Thanks for yet another great hub.

    • akirchner profile image
      Author

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Hello, hello - wonderful picture I'm conjuring up!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for another informative hub. Also helps with my couldron hahaha I do run out of herbs.

    • akirchner profile image
      Author

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Thanks for stopping in and I will send you an email personally!

    • profile image

      campdrunkchef 7 years ago

      Does any one know what the other half of the world does? I mean is the contest from 12midnight San Francisco Time or can you publish in your timezone and have your entry counted? This is typical globalism. There are to halves to this world!

      Does simply publishing a post qualify me for the contest or do they have to be filed in a particular location on the site. Sorry I am new. Campdrunkchef. Any help or advice would be appreciated.

    • akirchner profile image
      Author

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Thanks for stopping by, Darlene! Yes, I'm great on advice - just ask my Bob!

    • akirchner profile image
      Author

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Thanks, Holle - we are probably moving in the same mind orbit! Crazy - Do you want me to change mine and do how to dry extracts? I don't have a clue but maybe I should find out!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 7 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Very cleaver, great hub this is such grand advise, I always wondered to best way to dry my herbs. Thank you my dear friend, thumbs up

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Oh no, I just posted a similar hub! We are too much alike!