ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Drying Leafy Herbs

Updated on July 6, 2017
Nolimits Nana profile image

Nicolette Goff is a watercolourist, writer, and dedicated gardener. Her books, articles and paintings reveal her love of nature.

In my herb garden, the thyme, oregano and sage are just starting to show their flower buds, reminding me that this is the best time to be drying some now for winter use.

I love to use fresh herbs in my cooking, but hate to buy the ones in little plastic containers in the grocery store when my own herb garden is under snow. Who knows how long they've been in that package, and many of them barely last until you get them home. So what I do for winter herbs is use one of the oldest and simplest methods of preservation - drying.

Oregano

Oregano in my herb rock garden, full and bushy, ready to be harvested for drying. Although this plant is green through the winter, the leaves have lost some flavor. By cutting it just before it blossoms, the dried herb has the best flavor. Once it ha
Oregano in my herb rock garden, full and bushy, ready to be harvested for drying. Although this plant is green through the winter, the leaves have lost some flavor. By cutting it just before it blossoms, the dried herb has the best flavor. Once it ha

When to Harvest

Herbs should be harvested when the oils responsible for flavor and aroma are at their peak, just before flowering. Once flowering begins, leaf production generally declines and the leaves lose some flavor. You can start harvesting your foliage herbs when there is enough foliage to maintain growth. Clip sprigs from your plants in the morning, after dew dries, and before the heat of the day has evaporated some of the essential oils.

If the plants are clean, don't wash them.

Otherwise, rinse off the dust and dirt, shake them to get rid of the water, and spread them out on a dish towel or screen until they're dry. Once they're dry, remove any dead leaves and tie them into small bunches and hang them to dry somewhere where there is good air circulation, but away from direct light.

You can also place a clean paper bag over the herb bundle, to control light and possible dust accumulation. Make sure the bag has some vent holes cut so air can circulate through it.

I find that thyme, sage, savory, marjoram rosemary and oregano are the most easily dried. Mint, chives, tarragon, basil and parsley need to be dried quickly so they don't mold, so drying is by a different method, or else another preserving method such as freezing is used.

Preparing the Herbs

Tie the bundles of herbs (oregano here)with cotton string. Make a small bundle so drying is faster
Tie the bundles of herbs (oregano here)with cotton string. Make a small bundle so drying is faster
Putting a ventilated brown paper bag over the herbs shades from sunlight and protects from dust.
Putting a ventilated brown paper bag over the herbs shades from sunlight and protects from dust.

Drying Time

The length of time the herbs will take to dry will vary according to the temperature and the air movement. If you're hanging them in the kitchen, near the stove, and there is also a good draft, they may be dry in just a few hours. If left to dry in a closet or pantry, where there is little air circulation, they may take 4 - 7 days.

You'll know they are dried completely when the main stems of the herbs crack, rather than bend, and the leaves are brittle. I've found that hanging the herbs to dry is the best method for dehydrating them, since added heat can decrease the flavor and discolor the leaves somewhat.

Another method of drying is with a dehydrator. Dehydrator drying is  fast and easy because temperature and air circulation can be controlled. Pre-heat dehydrator with the thermostat set to 95°F to 115°F. After making sure the herbs are clean and dry, place them in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Drying times may vary from 1 to 4 hours.

Use Your Oven to Dry Herbs

If hanging your herbs to dry isn't convenient, you can also use your oven to dry them. This is a good method for the herbs such as mint, tarragon and basil that have a higher moisture content. Rather than tying them in bunches, remove the leaves from the stems, and put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Dry at the lowest possible oven setting. Turn the herb sprigs over part way through the drying and open the oven occasionally to let out moisture. If you have a convection oven, the drying time is further reduced, and should take less than 2 hours.  The heat from the pilot in a gas oven may be all the heat you need to dry your herbs overnight.

General Drying Method - Basil

Storing the Dried Herbs

When the leaves are dry, strip the leaves from stems and discard the stems. You can crush the leaves, but keep in mind that whole herbs retain their flavor longer than crushed, ground or rubbed herbs. Store your dried herbs in airtight containers - glass jars with lids, ceramic crocks, or zip-lock storage bags - away from the light.



Of Gardening, 1685

"So that for all things out of a garden, either of sallads or fruits, a poor man will eat better, that has one of his own, than a rich man that has none.

And this is all I think of, Necessary and Useful to be known upon this subject."

Sir William Temple, 'Of Gardening', 1685

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Barbara Hendrickson 8 years ago

      Thank you for such helpful information. I have some chinese basil that I love to use in my green curry dish, but it always goes bad before I can use it all, so I decided to dry it for later use in dishes.

      blessings!

      barb

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)