If your garden is bursting with fresh herbs now, preserve some for a time when things are not so green. By the first sign of frost this winter, it'll be time to harvest the rest of those herbs in your garden and bring them inside to dry or freeze for later use. Annual herbs can be cut off at ground level but perennial herbs should not be cut down completely, harvest only the tips of branches and tender leaves.
Before preserving, wash the herbs gently in cold water, drain thoroughly and air dry on a towel.
Gather herbs in small bunches, tying the ends with twist ties or rubber bands. Hang the herbs in bunches, upside down, in a dim, airy place away from any source of heat or moisture. You could use a beamed ceiling or a drying rack, anywhere that allows circulation between the bunches of herbs. It may take 4 – 14 days to dry completely, depending on the type of herb and the warmth and humidity of your drying area.
Herbs can also be stripped from the stems and leaves dried in a single layer on mesh rack (window screen works well). Leaves are dry when they are crisp and brittle.
The quickest way to dry herbs is in the oven. Set in single layer on mesh rack or foil lined baking sheet. Heat oven to its lowest setting. Place the herbs in the oven and leave until completely dry, which should take two to four hours depending on the herb. Cool before storing. Herbs are dry when the leaves crumble off the stem. Be care to not crush leaves until using them.
Once the herbs are dry they should be stored in airtight jars away from heat and moisture. For best flavor, use within 6 months to a year. When using dried herbs, crush between your fingers to release their flavor.
Remember that dried herbs are stronger in flavor than fresh, so when measuring in recipes use 1 part dried to 3 parts fresh.
Strip the herb leaves from the stems and lay on baking sheets. Freeze until firm and then pack into freezer bags. You can also chop the herbs in a food processor with a little water and freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen solid, unfold and pack in freezer bags for easy use all year long!
When cooking, use the herbs straight from the freezer as you would fresh herbs.
This can be the easiest way to dry your herbs. There are many different types of dehydrators in the market and you don’t have to spend too much. Once dried they are ready to be stored in airtight jars.
Our favorite part about dehydrating? So easy to make different herbal blends! It's recommended that you don’t fully crush the herbs up until day of use.