So you planted herbs this summer, tended them with care and now you are ready to harvest them for using in recipes. While fresh herbs are a delight, don’t forget to dry some too. Drying herbs is a simple process and really doesn’t take much time to do.
You can air dry herbs by suspending them in bundles or laying them on a screen in a dark area with good air circulation, but I prefer to use the oven. It’s almost instant gratification, leaves won’t get dusty and I don’t have to worry about finding a good spot for the process.
To get started gather the herbs in the early morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun gets too intense. Wash them and pat completely dry. Remove the leaves from the stems and spread them on a cookie sheet or a recycled aluminum tray. Place the herbs in the oven heated to it’s lowest temperature for several hours. Check on them regularly. Once dried, just crush or crumble them and place in airtight jars that are labeled and dated. Store your dried herbs in a cool, dark place.
I like to make blends with my dried herbs. The combinations are infinite: dill, lemon thyme and mint; rosemary, thyme and sage; parsley and basil. It’s just a matter of your tastes and imagination.
Here’s a recipe for an all-purpose mix that’s good on meats and vegetables.
Ingredients for a Basic Dried Herb Blend
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried basil
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Mix all the ingredients and place in an airtight jar. This recipe makes about ½ cup. After about six months to a year fresh herbs lose their flavor. If the fragrance is still strong, the herbs are still usable.
Good to Know
When you substitute dried herbs for fresh herbs in a recipe, use half the amount. The essential oils are concentrated in dried herbs.