DIY Herb Drying Tips

Garden herbs are often used to fill menus with fresh smells and flavors for a wide variety of dishes. However, for as much as they are used, many herbs still go to waste as they typically grow at a rapid, unusable pace. And while many gardeners end up watching their herbs wither on the vine year after year, there is a way to preserve herbs - by drying them.
 
Take advantage of a bountiful herb harvest by learning how to dry your own herbs this summer with these two simple methods:

 

Air-Drying

Air-drying typically works best for low-moisture herbs like oregano, rosemary and dill. For this method, you'll need some string, paper bags and a well-ventilated area to hang your herbs - kitchen windows often work nicely. 
 
Start by gathering five to 10 of the same herb branches and tie them together at the stalks using a piece of string. The smaller the bundle, the easier and faster the herbs will dry.
 
Put the bundle of herbs, stem-side up, in one of your paper bags, then carefully tie the bag closed, being sure not to crush the herbs as you do. Finally, poke a few pencil-sized holes in the bag for ventilation.
 
Once your bag is ready, use more of your string to hang it by the stem end in a warm, well-ventilated room. Depending on temperature and humidity, your herbs will be dried in one to two weeks. To check if the herbs are dry, simply see if the leaves crumble easily.

Oven-Drying

High-moisture herbs like basil, chives and mint typically work best for this method. Unlike air-dying, oven-drying requires the herbs to first be stripped from their stalks. Once you've stripped away your leaves or seeds, simply place them on a cookie sheet one-inch deep or less.
 
Let your oven reach 150 degrees (F), and place your herbs into the oven for 2-4 hours. Oven-drying has a tendency to cook out some of the potency and flavor of the herbs, so you may need to be more heavy-handed with them when cooking.

Harvest and Storage

Before drying your herbs, be sure you're squared away with a few basic tips for proper harvest and storage. For the best flavor, cut healthy herbs in midmorning, once the dew has dried. 
 
Store your harvested herbs in labeled, airtight containers like canning jars, plastic storage containers or freezer storage bags. For peak flavor, try to keep the leaves whole until you are ready to use them - crushing only once you're ready to use them. 
 
Your dried herbs will last a full year, which times up perfectly for next summer's herb harvest.