How To Dry Your Own Herbs and Spices

Michelle Heltay

Posted on November 06 2019

How To Dry Your Own Herbs and Spices

If you’re anything like me, and love to grow your own herbs, you’ll have an abundance of fresh greenery each season that you can easily preserve to have on hand for the off season.

Each year, I’ll always have oregano, marjoram, basil, chives, tarragon, parsley, mint and rosemary growing. These are my staples.

How To Dry Herbs

I’ve always had a bit of an issue with store bought herbs. Unless they were organic, I rarely bought the dried variety. Firstly, they are pretty expensive for what they are and how much you get, and secondly, was any pesticides or herbicides used in the production of them? I’ve had pesticide and herbicide poisoning before, I don’t really want to go down that track again.

For the times when I’m trying to source a particular herb or spice that I just cannot get locally, organically, there are a couple places online that I purchase from (here and here) or I access my wholesalers.

You can also freeze dried fresh herbs, if you are buying in bulk. Just portion off small amounts, pop into zip lock bags and use as needed.


Harvesting Herbs

The best time to harvest your herbs is before 10am, while the essential oils are still at their full potency and haven’t been affected by the sun yet.

You want to look for fresh, strong green leaves and foliage. Anything brown or wilted, leave where it is or put into the compost.

If you are harvesting flowers, pick them as they start to bloom before they’ve fully opened and flowered.


Drying Your Herbs

Air Drying

I like to air dry my herbs the most. I live in a hot sunny country and I find, that most of my leaves are dried by the end of the day. Sometimes, I’ll need to bring them inside at night and then take them out again the next day, though usually, one day is all it takes to dry them in Queensland Australia. I lay the leaves out on wooden trays, cover with a mesh food cover and leave to dry.

Another air drying method I use for fleshier leaves is to string together small bunches of stems and leaves, pop upside down into a brown paper bag and leave to hang from one of the overhead beams on my verandah.

This method can take up to a week to dry.

Drying Using a Dehydrator

I’ll use the dehydrator if the weather is humid or if I’m drying chilli’s, garlic or onion.

Each dehydrator is slightly different so please check with your particular model for most efficient use.

Sometimes, I can be dehydrating produce for up to 36 hours until it’s fully dried.

This is also how I dry my vegie stock powders, ensuring they are bone dry so I can whizz them into a fine powder using a coffee bean grinder.


How To Store Herbs & Spices

Always seek out air tight glass containers to store your dried produce in.

Keeping the herbs leaves and stems in as whole a form as possible is best, rather than crushing or turning them into a powder, so you keep the fresh flavour for longer. The only exception to this is if you are making a spice/herb blend.

Please note: dried herbs are more intense and concentrated in flavour than fresh herbs. When I’m grabbing fresh herbs from the garden, I often use 4-5 times more fresh greenery than I would dried. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of fresh herb, use around half a teaspoon of dried herb.

It’s fun to make your own dried herbs. Once you’ve dried a few, you’ll want to experiment with others also. There are so many wonderful culinary herbs to try. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow a few pots of herbs on your balcony or in your court yard.

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