The Backyard

The Backyard

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Herb Drying

After discovering the beauty, ease, and affordability of growing your own herbs some 20 years ago, life just hasn't been the same.  That's when I first got the gardening bug and had hundreds of types of herbs.  Heck, I even placed second in a garden contest that year.  So you could say my roots are in herbs.  Our favorite culinary herbs are rosemary, thyme, parsley, oregano, basil and sage and they've been grown in the backyard, harvested, and dried in my 110 degree 2nd floor of a garage for going on 20 seasons now. Parsley is the only exception to air drying because I like to retain the brilliant green for in recipes and it tends to turn brown when air drying.  We used to dry parsley in the microwave and here's my post on that.  More recently, after a couple close calls with burnt parsley in the microwave, we've used the dehydrator (in picture) which works quite well.  I can't recall the last time I purchased any of these herbs. This week was herb drying week for rosemary and some purple basil.  I dried the thyme and oregano in the spring when it was at its peak (just before flowering).  The parsley also was dried early this year after last year's crop provided a 2nd year cutting.  The basil was getting ready to bloom so I picked a bunch now, but will pull the entire plants in the fall and dry the whole plant also.  Herbs are very, very easy to dry.  Just cut stems before blooming and lay in a single layer on screens and let dry in a 85 to 100+ degree attic or warm area.  They'll be dry in about a week.  I've had luck drying rosemary on a paper plate on top of a refrigerator also - it just takes a little longer.  The hard part is jarring the dried herbs.  Thyme, especially, is a practice in patience - for inpatient me anyway.  Each tiny dried leaf is stripped from each tiny stem to avoid stems or branches in the jar.  Very time consuming, but worth every time-consuming second.  The basil and oregano also is a joy to crumple in pasta in the middle of the winter.  Homegrown dried herbs are much, much more flavorful and worth the effort.


Robin said...

Great post! I dry almost all of our herbs and spices. It's quite easy, great tasting and saves you a bunch of $$$

Right now we are out of Paprika. Thankfully the paprika peppers are starting to get ripe. I dry them, remove the seeds and grind them into paprika powder.

Dave said...

Timely topic! We dry most of our herbs too, except for the exotic ones we can't grow. I can usually manage to have fresh parsley year round, so I only dry a bit in the dehydrator to add to soap (for color).

Anonymous said...

I am so happy I found your blog. I was reading through the Harvest Mondays list on Daphne's Dandelions and came across your blog. This post was perfect in its timing. I was about to post a request on my blog for advice on drying herbs. I planted Basil, Thai Basil, Tarragon, sage, flat leaf parsley, curly leaf parsley, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, pineapple sage, lemon balm, spearmint and peppermint this year. I also have lavender and as you could imagine, with all these herbs, I need to start drying. I planted 5 rosemary plants. Mainly because it is my favorite herb but also because they make great bushes for front yard gardening.

I am curious how you store your dried herbs and how long can they store for? Also, have you ever dried herbs like mints, lemon balm and lavender for tea's or bath aromatherapy? Would you recommend drying the flat leaf or curly parsley (or both)? I would love any recommendations you could offer.

I am so glad I found your blog!!!

Chili said...

We all have Daphne to thank for hooking us all up. I too am enjoying reading everyone's posts. I store my dried herbs in mason jars with rings and lids. Mainly because I inherited about a thousand of them from my grandparents and mother and they are super-easy to store on shelves; but also the glass makes a nice storage medium. In a dark, dry cupboard/room, they'll last several years in some cases. Humidity is the big killer and will turn your dried goods brown and will also ruin the flavor/shape (flowers). Yes, I've dried balm and lavender. The lavendar is dried by the whole flower in a bunch (handing upside down), then stripped from the stem and stored in jars. I still have lavendar from 15 years ago! Yes, it keeps well. The key to drying is finding a good dry spot that the temperature gets 85 and above. And then storing in a non-humid location. Have fun!