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Harvest and dry your own herbs

Updated on January 5, 2015

To harvest and dry your own herbs

Picking or harvesting herbs out of your own herb garden will be very rewarding . Growing your own herbs will give you access to the tastiest varieties and drying it yourself will give you the added benefit of very fresh (dried) herbs with more taste and color than the store bought herbs that could be months or even years old and sitting on shelves in the heat , obviously not fresh anymore . It is always best to use fresh herbs as it has more flavor , taste and aroma when using it in cooking . There is times though that you will need to use dried herbs , when fresh herbs is unavailable or with certain teas , for that times you can dry your own herbs and store it so it will be there when you need it . Drying herb seeds will ensure that you can sow your favorite herbs again in the new season .

Harvesting of herbs

Harvest or pick your herbs in the mid – mornings before the sun is too hot but after the sun has dried the dew away . If you harvest later in the day , the essential oils will be dried away by the sun as well and your herbs will not be as rich in flavor and nutritious anymore . When harvesting the herb seeds , you must see to it that the seed heads is dry and turning a light brown color . The heads must be turning hard but not be ready to shatter . To harvest herbal flowers , it is best to cut the flower buds off the plants , the first day the buds open as the flowers will then be at their best .

Drying of herbs

There is a variety of ways to dry your own herbs , and all of them work very well . Just decide which way will work best for you .

Oven dry You can lay your herb leaves on a tray in the oven and turn it on a cool setting ( 100 degrees ) for about 30 minutes . Remove , crumb and store in airtight containers .

Hanging in bundles Tie your herb – stems together with cable ties ( so you can tighten it as the stems shrink ) and hang the herbs upside down in a warm , dry spot but not in the kitchen as it will be too humid . Tie a paper bag , with a few air holes in it , around the leaves , it will catch any dry leaves falling down .

Drying screen To dry individual leaves and sprigs , it can be best to use a drying screen . An old window screen or hardware cloth mesh will work very well . Lay a cheesecloth over the screen and lay the leaves on it to dry . The process will take several days . Remember that drying and crumbling will reduce your herbs . That is why dry herbs is much stronger than fresh herbs .

Microwave drying Strip the leaves of the stems and place it between two paper towels . Stert on high power for one minute and let it rest for 30 seconds . Then on high power for 30 seconds and rest for 30 seconds . Then alternate between 30 seconds on high and 30 seconds of rest , for ten minutes . The leaves should be dried fully after ten minutes .

Storing dry herbs

After drying you should crumble some of the herb leaves . Keep some leaves and seed whole as they will retain oils better in storage than fine , crumbled herbs . Store the dried herbs in airtight containers or jars and out of direct sunlight and away from heat , thus not near windows , stoves or ovens . Always label your containers with the name of the contents and the date . Dry new herbs every six months to keep your stock of herbs fresh .

Storing of dry herbs

Dried herbs : aniseed , oregano and basil in airtight containers .
Dried herbs : aniseed , oregano and basil in airtight containers .

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    • Mariefg profile imageAUTHOR

      Marie Greyvenstein 

      3 years ago from Alexandria , Eastern Cape , South Africa

      Pleasure , drying your own will be much cheaper and tastier than those you buy !

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      3 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for some herb tips. Every year I plan on harvesting and drying more--maybe this year! :)

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