Do you purchase herbs like basil and dill in those little jars from the grocery store? How crazy expensive are those!!!??? A tiny 1/4 ounce jar of dried oregano or basil is about $6.00 around here. I can fill my whole pantry with every herb one can think of for about $6.00, and I have plenty of plants I can let go to seed, so I can save those seeds and plant next year for free. And you know what’s even better? My herbs have brighter color and fresher taste than those brown-looking herbs in the grocery-store jar.
It’s not the manufacturer’s fault their herbs are tasteless, herbs generally lose their flavor over time; therefore, I dry fresh herbs every year, and I usually freeze some in ice trays, too.
There are four very good ways to dry your herbs, but be careful who you talk to about it. People are picky picky picky about how to dry herbs and will be happy to tell you how you’re doing it wrong. There’s really no way to do it wrong. Just get them completely dry and crumbly and store them for later. The only secret is to make sure there’s ZERO moisture at all left in your herbs or they will get moldy in storage.
So, here are different ways you can dry your own herbs…from a week to three minutes. You decide what best works for you.
1. AIR DRYING. If you have a bunch of fresh herbs from your garden (or from the grocery store), wrap a rubber band tightly around the stems which you’ve clumped together in a one-inch diameter bunch. Tie a string around the stems and hang them upside down until the moisture has completely left the plant. Depending on the humidity in your home, this will take approximately a week. When they crumble in your hand like dried fall leaves, you’re ready to store.
2. DEHYDRATOR. If you have a dehydrator, lay them in a single layer on one of the mesh inserts and dry on low for two to four hours. For larger leaves like basil, you can just dry the leaves. For smaller leaves like dill, you can dry the whole stem.
3. OVEN DRYING. If you don’t have a couple weeks or even a couple hours to dry herbs, lay them on a cheese cloth on a cookie sheet and place them in your oven on the very lowest setting for about 30 minutes.
4. MICROWAVE. If you really don’t want to wait, you can place the herb leaves on a paper towel on a plate in your microwave for about 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of the leaf). The bigger the leaf, the more time. The smaller the leaf, the less time.
STORING YOUR DRIED HERBS
When your herbs are completely dry, store them in an air-tight container. You can even use an old jelly jar or a mayo jar. Your herbs will certainly keep their fresh flavor until you dry some more next year.
USING YOUR DRIED HERBS
Using dried herbs and fresh herbs are the same – EXCEPT for the quantity. Dried herbs are very compact, so if your recipe calls for 1 tsp fresh, you probably only need 1/2 tsp dried. There’s a lot of flavor in those dried leaves. And since you dried them yourself, they’ll be flavorful for a long time!