Friday, August 20, 2021

Harvesting and Drying Herbs

Harvesting and Drying Herbs

There several ways to dry herbs. But before you start to dry, you need to harvest and prep them. Harvest timing is really important. Keep reading for information on drying your own herbs.

Herbs are easy to grow. They have little maintenance requirements other than regular watering. Some need less sun than others to keep them from bolting (going to seed early). 

You can grow them in the ground, in raised beds, or in pots.       

You can even grow them in your kitchen. 

Basil planted between tomatoes gives it shade to prevent bolting.


You can't always use them all, so preserving them is the next step. The most common way to preserve herbs is through drying, which we'll talk about here, but you can also freeze them, make oils or extracts, and use them in crafts.


Harvesting Herbs

So let's start with the harvest. Snipping herbs mid-morning will provide the most essential oils in the leaves. As the day goes on, those oil tend to vaporize, leaving you with less than fragrant cuttings. But harvest them too early and you run the risk of mildew. Make sure they are free from morning dew before you pick.
As they grow, the more you snip, the more you get. I like to go out once a week and "prune" them. As you start to accumulate more than you can use at a time, you need to consider preserving the harvest. 

If you are harvesting seed heads, place them inside a paper bag and put them in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks. When then are thoroughly dry, give the bag a good shake. Most of the seeds will fall to the bottom of the bag. Then just remove the stems and pour the seeds into an air-tight jar. Sometimes the seeds don't want to let go. Gently pull them from the flower and save.

For leaves and flowers there is no need to trim or cut, just lay them on paper towels while you prepare them for drying. 

Drying Herbs

There are four methods for drying herbs. 
The most common method the hanging method.  Herbs are tied and hung, head side down, in a warm place that is out of direct sunlight. Depending on the humidity, this should take a week or two. The leave should be crisp like cornflakes when they are ready to store. 

Another air dry method is to lay them on a screen or rack in a warm place out of the sun. Turn them every day or so. This will take about a week to get to cornflake texture. 

Oven drying is another method. Heat the oven to 100 degrees. Higher than that will burn them. Set them on a rack and turn after 20 or 30 minutes, then let them dry another 20- 30 minutes. Keep the oven door slightly ajar to let the excess moisture out. Again, you're looking for cornflake texture.

The last method, and the one I use, is a food dehydrator. Simply lay the stalks across the trays in as much of a single layer as possible. 

Turn the dehydrator on and let them dry for 1 to 2 days. Again, it depends on the thickness and size of the leaves or flowers. 

Storing Herbs

Once your herbs are dry, carefully strip the leaves off the stem and put them in airtight containers to store. 

I use mason jars, but ziplock bags or plastic containers work. Just make sure whatever you use is totally dry before placing your herbs inside. 

So are you ready to start growing some herbs!! Come back for more ideas on what to do with them after they are dried!

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  1. I've actually never tried growing herbs. I've wanted too but watching the herbs at my daughters house die so often, it didn't seem doable. Thank you for linking up at Farmhouse Friday! Hope you have a great weekend. pinned

    1. I find them easier to grow in large pots outside or raised beds. Pots can be moved to a sheltered place in the winter and you'll have herbs all year. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. It is always a delight to feature your awesome post on Full Plate Thursday 553! Thanks so much for sharing with us and come back to see us soon!
    Miz Helen

    1. I am honored!!! I appreciate the party you do every week!

  3. I love growing and using herbs fresh but I have a lot go to waste. I'll have to try drying some in the future.

    1. You can also blanche them for a minute and freeze them. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing your post at Share the Wealth Link Party. Didn't realize it's best to gather herbs mid-morning for best results. Great tip. What a beautiful garden you have. Warm regards, Nancy Andres @ Colors 4 Health.


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