How to Dry Herbs

Some of the things I've learned about how to dry herbs in the spring and summer. I love seeking out unusual varietals like caraway thyme, pineapple sage, fresh coriander. At the market, some will appear for a week or two, then aren't seen again for another year.

How to Dry Herbs

This is the time of year I find myself drying herbs. In part, it's because I tend to come across special, unusual varietals in the spring and late into summer - caraway thyme, pineapple sage, fresh coriander. Some will appear for a week or two, then aren't seen again for another year. Other times, it is the herb flowers that get me - I like to use them throughout the year, and the one way to guarantee a supply is to dry them. It couldn't be simpler, so I thought I'd share my method for those of you who may have missed it the last time I wrote about it.

How to dry herbs

Group Herbs into Small Bunches

I tend to group any herbs I'm going to dry into small bunches. Leaves are stripped from the bottom few inches of each stem, and a bit of twine secures each bundle. A push pin or strip of washi tape is typically enough to secure the herbs anywhere high and dry - walls, bookcases, fireplace mantles, cabinet knobs, and the like are all fair game around here.

How to dry herbs
A Pro-tip

Leave a few inches of extra string when you tie the herbs to dry them. The stems will become dehydrated, and lose a bit of volume. The extra string will allow you to re-tie the herbs more snuggly if needed without starting over. Kelly left a comment below that caught my attention, "I use rubber bands (recycled from foods like asparagus or carrots that come banded together) instead of twine. That was the rubber band contracts as the herbs dry and i don’t have to adjust the twine or clean herbs off the floor!" I haven't tested it yet, but it sounds like a winner.

How to dry herbsHow to dry herbs
To dry chive flowers, you'll want to trim them from their stems and place on a flat surface for a week or so. Toss every couple of days so that all sides are exposed to air.How to dry herbs

How to Store Dried Herbs

Be sure your herbs are completely dried before transferring them to a sealed container. Any moisture can result in mold. Store in a cool dark place. Also, after a few days of drying, your herb bundles will contract a bit from dehydration. Per the tip above, you may need to tighten the twine a bit.

Let me know if you have favorite herbs I should try to seek out. I love the offbeat, slightly unexpected thymes, sages, and lavenders. I'm sure there there are others I should know about as well!

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Comments

I read a suggestion to put the herbs into a paper bag ( into which you make several holes with a knife, to let the air flow), so that the essential oils are protected from light exposure - this way they keep much more flavor. And it does make an immense difference. It’s like the difference between winter greenhouse tomatoes and August tomatoes from Sicily. Found in the Book of food preserving without canning or freezing by farmers and gardeners of terre vivante.

Klarisa

This is in response to Leah about dusty herbs. If you live in a dry and dusty environment (I live in a desert), you can loosely put herbs in paper sacks to dry. Just shake them up lightly every day and make sure the sack is in a sunny place. Obviously, do not pack the sack with herbs, you want a lot of air in there. Easy way to keep off the dust. Then pack in a storage jar when all dry. Thanks for the look at different herbs Heidi!

Missy

Maybe off the topic of dried herbs ... but if you have an abundance think about herb infused vinegars. Chive blossom vinegar is a favorite of mine, the blossoms turn the vinegar a lovely pink and the flavor lasts if stored in the refrigerator.

Tory

Last year, the owner of Healdsburg SHED gave me a particular variety of oregano and insisted I dry it. It was awesome. It looks a lot like the image with the pink washi tape. Do you know what variety it is? Last summer I had over twenty calendula plants that self seeded and was able to dry scores of flowers to make calendula salve and in the winter I would through the dried petals on salads.

Kathryn

hi heidi, i just started korean mint, lemongrass, anise basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil and lime balm seeds for the garden this year. looking forward to some new tastes.

Leah

I love using fresh & dried herbs and flowers. I use fresh herbs in our salads and garnish with edible flowers, so colorful...yum! Hey how about spring violets in ice cubes :) This last winter my chickens got the unharvested dried herb stocks in their coop to investigate and play with. Now I'm putting the extra new fresh herbs in their nest boxes to eat, good medicine.

Carol Brusco

Oh... And on the kafir lime- just pop it in the freezer in a plastic bag. Mine has lasted for a long time

Outdoorfoodie

I am loving this whole thread with everyone's suggestions. Keep it going:-). I have scads of lemon balm growing wild in my garden. Anyone have favorite culinary uses for it? I have dried it for teas, and recently made a salve with olive oil, honey and coconut oil.

Outdoorfoodie

Hi Heidi! Last year I started growing and drying my own herbs. Mostly to enjoy the herbs year round but also to prune the plants & not have any go to waste! One thing I noticed was my herbs appeared to look dusty!! Have you ever noticed that with yours? I am not sure if I let them sit out too long and somehow 'overdried' ... if it was my air or if that's just the appearance of home dried herbs?? I noticed it particularly with the oregano. Any suggestions?

HS: Hi Leah - I just give them a little swipe with a feather duster if they're going to be drying more than a couple of weeks....aside from that, when they're dry, I put them in little jars in a dark place to store.

Leah

I've never seen rose thyme, but I love the lemon. I'll have to be on the lookout. I've got a variegated lime time that I love, for taste and looks too!

Martha

Have you ever tried to dry kaffir lime leaves? I first encountered them in Trader Joe's Chili Lime Cashews and they are delicious. I unsuccessfully tried to slow bake them. Maybe simply drying would work.

Sue Ruvo

I think 'lemon rose thyme' is my favorite new-to-me herb find this spring. I potted it in combination with various other thymes, but that one really deserves its own pot. :)

HS: Hi heather! I've had lemon thyme, and also rose thyme, but not lemon rose....eyes peeled!

Heather

Grea tip to dry chive flowers and how to use them! I hang herbs from our garden on an antique Hungarian herb rack in the family room. It has a large bunch of Marjoram on it now! I have a tiny wood bar with 4 tiny pegs in my kitchen for hanging smaller bunches of herbs such as tarragon, 'purple' sage, and thyme or 'lemon' thyme (a little sharper flavor than thyme).

Perrianna

Very interesting, and I am just thinking how much sweet smell your house must be having now.

Vasant

Anise hyssop is a great herb with a licorice flavor and beautiful purple blossoms. My favorite way to use it is in a beet salad.

Katie

How about bay leaves? I have a bay tree (am only renting) and would live to try dry them and stock up...

Nicola

I never knew it was that easy! I recently bought like 2 pounds of parsley so I had to power through it so it wouldn't wilt before I could finish it, lol. Nothing get's wasted in my kitchen!

Angel Reyes

Every year I think of drying herbs but never end up doing. I'm determined to do these year. Thank you for the wonderful tips.

Lail | With A Spin

Dried herbs, hooray! I have a handful of homegrown mint bunches drying right now, and an oregano plant that could absolutely use some trimming besides. Yay!

Eileen

There is something so romantic about dried herb bundles hanging about the house. I'm excited to try the dried chive flowers!

la domestique

I love drying roses and I use a very similar method. Dried herbs would look beautiful in the kitchen. Thank you for the inspiration. I love everything you post!

Nisrine

Sage is amazing dried. In Palestine we put some sprigs of dried sage in with some black tea (like Earl Grey). You can add sugar if you like because it's quite a sweet combination. It's great after a meal because it really helps smooth your stomach and aid digestion. We dry it by sticking it on a tray and leaving by a sunny window for a week or so, turning every few days.

Dalila

Last year I found a rose-scented thyme at a local garden fair. It's become my favorite and I try to keep the plant healthy because I haven't seen it anywhere before or since. As for chive blossoms, I like soaking them in jars of champagne vinegar or white balsamic vinegar for several weeks to make a delicious (and pretty pink) flavored vinegar. They're also delicious fresh in salads, but my all-time favorite use for chive blossoms is to make flavored salt. Throw the fresh blossoms in the food processor with some sea salt and process until they're finely chopped and mixed with the salt, then let dry on a sheet pan. The salt is absolutely divine on hard boiled eggs and the vinegar brings a unique touch to deviled eggs, but they both go well with just about anything.

Holly

I love drying herbs, such a feeling of satisfaction being able to use herbs from the garden throughout the winter. I slacked off last fall and didn't do as much as I could have, and I've been regretting it all winter. I won't make that mistake again this year!

Christina @ but i'm hungry

Hi Heidi, We eat chive flowers in Vietnam (stir-fried, in a soup, etc.) but only when they are still unopened buds. I kept them once or twice in a small vase as some kind of real flowers in the house and they were beautiful when they were fully open, but I don't believe I've ever seen them in this lovely lavender shade (only white). I'll try next week and see if they will change colour if I wait for long enough :'). I'm not sure they can be dried unopened, no? Thank you for sharing.

Phuong

What do you use the chive flowers for? Drying them sounds lovely.... They are beautiful!

Karen

    Hi Karen, I sprinkle them on many things! Over eggs, salads, rice bowls, even tacos!

    Heidi Swanson

I use rubber bands (recycled from foods like asparagus or carrots that come banded together) instead of twine. That was the rubber band contracts as the herbs dry and i don't have to adjust the twine or clean herbs off the floor!

Kelly

what a timely post! a friend gave me a potted herb garden as a gift and i'd like to dry some of the herbs; namely marjoram. do you have any ideas for use of that herb? (fresh or dry)

ellen

I was just imagining how lovely your home must smell right now!

Megan

I'm too lazy to twine them together, I just toss my herbs in paper bags. What are your favorite herbs to dry?

ana

I have a hard time if I don't dry some DWARF GREEK OREGANO each year, it's SO delicious !

Pozole

Hi Heidi, I expect you have tried it but there is an Aussie herb called lemon myrtle, similar to lemon verbena, which makes wonderful tea, but also a great combo in a spice rub, healing broth or divine in a jelly. Herb flowers are such a lovely way to enjoy the whole cycle of the plant. Or just feel better about not wasting your herbs when they bolt!

Anonymous

Heidi, We have an abundance of sage in our garden with few ideas of how to best utilize it. Is sage good for drying?

Bess Tassoulas

I love drying my own herbs too! Just this morning I went out to find some nettles to dry as they're one of my favorites and tend to be best around here at this time of year while still young and tender.

Rosie @The Porridge Pot

Every year I vow to do this! You've inspired me to actually give it a try. Any suggestions for a high-humidity area?

Anne @aveganadventure

I love this post and the idea to secure those little bundles with washi tape. So thanks for this. What do you use chive flowers for? Just for decoration?

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