If you have an
herb garden, you'll find that home-dried
herbs can be just as tasty as those
bought at the store. However, proper
handling is as important to the success
of your herb harvest as good cultural
Most herbs are
at their peak flavour just before
flowering, so this is a good time
to collect them for drying and storage.
To be certain, check drying directions
on specific herbs in a reliable reference
book. Cut off the herbs early in the
morning just after the dew has dried.
Cut annuals off at ground level, and
perennials about one-third down the
main stem, including the side branches.
Wash herbs, with the leaves on the
stems, lightly in cold running water
to remove any soil, dust, bugs, or
other foreign material.
Drain thoroughly on absorbent towels
or hang plants upside down in the
sun until the water evaporates. Strip
leaves off the stalks once plants
have drained and dried, leaving only
the top 6 inches. Remove all blossoms.
Natural or Air Drying
Herbs must be dried
thoroughly before storing. Herbs with
high moisture content, such as mint
and basil, need rapid drying or they
will mold. To retain some green leaf
coloring, dry in the dark by hanging
plants upside down in bunches in paper
Hanging leaves down allows essential
oils to flow from stems to leaves.
Tie whole stems very tightly in small
Individual stems will shrink and fall.
Hang in a dark, warm (21.1o-26.7oC),
well-ventilated, ideally dust-free
area. Leaves are ready when they feel
dry and crumbly in about 1 to 2 weeks.
Once you are sure the herbs are completely
dry, place them in the airtight containers,
and store them in a cool, dry place
away from light. Never use paper or
cardboard containers for storage as
they will absorb the herbs' aromatic
Herbs also can
be frozen. Harvest herbs according
to recommendations. Wash them thoroughly
and blanch them in boiling, unsalted
water for 50 seconds
Cool them quickly in ice water and
then package and freeze them. Washed
fresh dill, chives, and basil can
be frozen without blanching.