I like to grow a variety of herbs: parsley, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, and cilantro. I always plant more herbs than we can possibly use, and they often rot, drown, or dehydrate in the Florida sun before I can do anything with them. I’ve been on this food preservation kick lately, so I decided to dry and bottle the extras.
I consulted Miranda Smith’s Your Backyard Herb Garden: A Gardener’s Guide to Growing Over 50 Herbs Plus How to Use Them in Cooking, Crafts, Companion Planting and More for step-by-step instructions on dehydrating and storing herbs for culinary use. Smith recommends that you gather your herbs early in the day, and don’t wash them unless it is necessary. If you do wash them, make sure you allow them to dry before you bunch them to hang (p. 62).
How to Dry Herbs
Cut herbs (1) and tie in small bunches (2). Make sure you leave enough string to hang the bunches.
Enclose the herb bunches in small paper bags. If you live in a high humidity region like I do, Smith recommends that you wrap the herbs in cheesecloth so that air can circulate through the weaves (3). Either method is meant to keep the herbs clean.
Hang the bunches at least six feet from the wall and six inches between bunches (p. 62). The herbs will dry in about two weeks.
Strip the leaves from the stems (4) and store in air tight bottles (5).