I recently harvested some herbs from the garden in my backyard.
Since Processing herbs to air dry is really easy, I figured I would share for those that have never done it and want too!
Keep in mind air drying can be tricky in humid areas, and can result in molded herbs… I live in North Texas and can air dry just fine. I would suggest knowing your climate for best results.
Step 1: Make the Cut
Holding your snips (or scissors) at a diagonal, cut the stem just above new growth.
This allows your plant to continue producing more herbs… and you to have future harvests! This is actually a very healthy and happy process for your plant.
Find the new growth toward the bottom of the stem and cut at a diagonal
This picture shows where I snipped off my harvest just above the new growth… allowing plant to continue growing!
Step 2: A Nice Cool Bath
Wash your cut herbs with cold water. I use a very mild soap bath to soak them in first (for about 30 minutes), then rinse in fresh clean water.
This bath will kill off any bugs hanging around and help remove animal accidents that you may not have noticed. Nature can be gross… the dried herbs you cook with shouldn’t be.
I harvested a bath tub full of herbs this time around… but normally I would wash them in the kitchen sink.
Step 3: Be Picky
Go stem by stem and pinch/cut off the bad leaves.
Look for and remove leaves that have been eaten by bugs, have mold spots or other imperfections that make the leaf seem “not right”. When in doubt, go with your instinct. If it doesn’t seem right, and you wouldn’t want to eat it… don’t! Pop it off and throw it out.
Tip: Don’t compost moldy or diseased leaves. It is best to throw those leaves away or burn them. You don’t want to breed disease in your compost, leaving you with “sick” fertilizer.
Mold on leaf
Pinch’d off moldy leaves to throw away… Rest of stem is ready to set aside on drying towel.
Step 4: Air ‘em Out
Lay your pruned stems out on a dry towel for 30 minutes to an hour. Letting the leaves dry from the bath.
This will help keep them from molding.
Step 5: Tie ‘em up
If you are working with more than one type of herb, keep the herbs in their specific groups. Meaning- oregano should hang in ‘oregano only’ clusters. Once the herbs dry they are hard to separate Splitting them in this way now, will make it easier for you later.
Tie the bunches with cotton string. They can be big or small bunches depending on your window space and the herb stem size.
Just remember not to oversize the cluster in order to reduce the amount of molding that can happen in the center of the bunch if it doesn’t receive enough air flow.
Important Tip: Tie a slip knot around your herbs… because as they dry the herbs will shrink in size and the string will loosen. With a slip knot, you can tighten the string to fit the cluster as it shrinks.
Step 5: Hang ‘em Up
I like to pick a sunny window, because the heat helps create a dry environment for the herbs.
I remove the curtains from the window and use the existing curtain rod to hang my herbs from… it’s an easy trick.
my kitchen window makes a good home for smaller herb clusters
And a larger window works for the long stemmed basil clusters
Step 6: Dried Out
Leave the herbs alone for a few weeks.
Once they are nice and dry/brittle to the touch… they are ready to be gently removed and crunched up into little spice jars for cooking.
It’s that simple! You can totally handle drying your own herbs. Haven’t started an herb garden yet? Try it out on some cilantro from the grocery store!
Let me know if you have any questions about the drying process! Good Luck!