How to Dry Herbs - Backyard Boss
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How to Dry Herbs

For those growing your herbs at home, there comes a time when it’s necessary to dry them out to preserve them for use later. I came to this point when I realized that the herbs growing in my indoor greenhouse with the AeroGarden were getting too moist and starting to experience root rot.

So, I began trying different methods for drying fresh herbs and home and discovered five great ways to do it. Which ones worked well for me. You may want to try them all out as well to determine your best fit, or you may simply know by reading.

What You Need to Dry Herbs

Herbs hanging on twine with name tags
Image credits: Ilse Orsel via Unsplash

Depending on the method you use for drying your fresh herbs, there are different tools needed.

For Air Drying by Hanging

  • Herbs
  • Twine, cord, ribbon, rubber band, or thick thread
  • Thin muslin or thin paper bags
  • Hooks or bars from which to hang the bundles
  • A dry room
  • Air-tight container(s) for storage

For Air Drying by Rack

  • Herbs
  • Rack or tray
  • A dry room
  • Air-tight container(s) for storage

For Dehydrating

  • Herbs
  • Food dehydrator
  • Mesh insert for the dehydrator
  • Tea towel
  • Air-tight container(s) for storage

For Oven Drying

  • Herbs
  • Muslin, cheesecloth, or silicon mat
  • Oven
  • Baking sheet(s)
  • Tea towel
  • Air-tight container(s) for storage

For Microwave Drying

  • Herbs
  • Paper towels
  • Microwave
  • Air-tight container(s) for storage

How To Dry Your Homegrown Herbs

There are four methods you can use to dry herbs at home. I prefer the hanging herb bundle air-dry method, but the others work equally well and can be a better fit for your home setup, the types of herbs you’re drying, or just feel better to you. Whichever you choose is the right one.

Method 1 – Air Drying by Hanging

Herbs hang drying from a wooden rack
Image credits: Free-Photos via Pixabay

My preferred method smacks of the old days when you’d see air-dry herbs hanging in bundles in apothecaries and shops. It’s one of the longest methods, but I find the herbs are crisper and slightly sweeter or spicier when dried this way.

  1. Once you’ve plucked your herbs from the plants, tie them together in small bunches with the twine. Make sure you limit these bunches to five or six sprigs to prevent molding.
  2. Wrap the bundles loosely in muslin or thin paper bags. It keeps out dust and catches falling leaves.
  3. Hang the bunches upside down from a hook or bar, making sure they’re not touching each other.
  4. Allow seven to ten days for drying.
  5. Remove from the hook and store properly.

Method 2 – Air Drying by Rack

tray with dried veggies
Image Credits: Edgar Castrejon on Unsplash

For those who don’t have a good place to hang their herbs, drying them in a rack or tray might be a better option.

For this method:

  1. On a tray, lay out some wax paper or a silicone mat.
  2. Pluck the leaves from the stems of your herbs and spread them across the tray. Avoid touching where you can.
  3. Place the tray in a room where there won’t be much air movement and where the air will be reasonably dry.
  4. Cover the tray loosely with more wax paper or a paper bag “tent” to protect the herbs from dust without trapping them in moisture.
  5. Let the herbs dry for about a week.
  6. Store properly.

Method 3 – Dehydrating

dehydrated herbs
Image credits: 12995263 via Pixabay

If you have a home dehydrator, this can be used to quickly and easily dry out your herbs.

  1. Place the mesh insert(s) into the dehydrator trays.
  2. Pluck the leaves from the herbs and lay them out in a single layer on each dehydrator tray.
  3. Put the dehydrator on the lowest setting for 2 hours.
  4. Once the herbs are dry, carefully remove each tray over a tea towel (to catch falling herbs) and put them into proper storage containers.

Method 4 – Oven Drying

Black small oven
Image Credits: Marcos Ramírez on Unsplash

If you like the idea of a fast drying time but don’t have a dehydrator, using your oven is a great option.

  1. Set the oven to the lowest setting.
  2. Lay your muslin, cheesecloth, or silicone mat onto a baking sheet.
  3. Pluck the leaves of the herbs and lay, in a single layer, across the sheets.
  4. “Bake” the herbs for 30 minutes in the oven.
  5. Once the herbs are dried, remove them from the sheet over a tea towel and store them properly in glass airtight containers.

Method 5 – Microwave Oven Drying

dehydrated flowers spilling from clear jars
Image credits: Monfocus via Pixabay

For an even easier, faster method, microwaves do the trick, too!

  1. Pluck the leaves from the stems and wash them thoroughly.
  2. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. Once the herbs are dried off, place them between two dry paper towels and microwave for one minute.
  4. Check the herbs and continue microwaving in 30-second increments until dried out.
  5. Store properly for long-lasting results.

What are the Best Herbs for Drying?

If you’re not sure which herbs you can grow and dry at home, here’s a quick list to give you an idea. This list is based on the oil and excess moisture levels of each herb, which is what makes some better than others for drying.

  • Bay leaves
  • Dill
  • Lavender
  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Lemon balm
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Mint
  • Tarragon
  • Sage
  • Parsley
  • Kasoori Methi
  • Marjoram
  • Savory
  • Chives
  • Tulsi
  • Curry leaves
  • Fennel
  • Chervil
  • Lovage
  • Stevia

How to Store Your Dried Herbs Properly

Herbs stored in glass jars
Image credits: monicore via Pixabay

As you dry those herbs, it’s important to have a safe place to store them, or all that hard work will go to waste. The best way to store herbs is in air-tight glass jars or bottles (upcycling some old jelly jars, anyone?). They should then be kept in a cool, dry location to prevent them from going bad or losing their flavor too quickly.

Homegrown Herbs are the Best Herbs

Growing and drying herbs at home turns out to be a lot less complicated than I used to think. In fact, it’s pretty darn easy. I don’t have tons of space for my herb garden, so I’ve selectively chosen oregano, chives, cilantro, and basil to grow and dry at home. They are the best ones I’ve ever used for my cooking, though.

As you dry your own using one of these five methods, I’m sure you’ll discover the same quality that I have. Enjoy!