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Shirley Bovshow - How To Dry Essential Herbs

Herbs can enhance any meal and Shirley Bovshow shares how to grow and prepare our own in time for our holiday dinners.
How to Dry Essential Herbs
Level:
Intermediate
How-To:
Gardening
Seasonal Event:
Fall

It’s too late in the season to grow herbs from seeds and have them ready in time for your holiday meals, but you can buy small, herb plants at your local garden center now, and replant them in larger pots. They will grow a lot in the next 8 weeks so you will have plenty of herbs for your holiday meals. Just:

  1. Re-plant your small herbs in a 50/50 mixture of Cactus Potting Soil and Regular Potting Soil.
  2. Put them in a Porous Pot . They need the drainage. (I recommend Terra Cotta)
  3. Place them in the brightest spot near a window where the temperature is 60-80 degrees.
  4. Water them when the soil feels slightly dry.
  5. I have 4 herb plants to work with today: Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Parsley. These will make up our wonderful, Dried Holiday Herb Blend.

Technique for Cutting The Leaves Off The Plants:

When you are ready to harvest the leaves...

  1. Take the outer leaves only and cut near the soil but ABOVE the lowest leaf point so it will continue to grow.
  2. Never cut more than 50% of the leaves on the plant.
  3. Wash them in water and dry them well in a Salad Spinner or using heavy Paper Towels.

There Are A Few Techniques For Drying The Herbs:

Bag Drying:

This method takes about 5 days, so plan ahead of when you want to use them.

  1. Using a medium craft bag, punch holes to allow air to circulate
  2. Gather a handful of clean herbs and hang them upside down in the bag
  3. Gather the top of the bag and herb stem together & scrunch them together then wrap a rubber band around both the bag and stem
  4. Place it in a warm area on a table or in a cupboard
  5. The leaves are dry enough when they are crispy

Hanging Rack:

This method takes 3-5 days.

  1. Simply hang the herbs from a rack in a dry warm room
  2. You can tie a string in a cupboard or pantry or make your own rack. Just keep the herbs spaced apart
  3. A rubber band will hold the bunch together and also help to hang the herbs on the rack

Same Day Method:

This method takes only 2-3 minutes to dry, so they can be ready on the day of your feast.

  1. Remove the leaves from the stem
  2. Place them on 3-ply of paper towels
  3. Place another 3-ply of towels on top
  4. Heat in a Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute
  5. Check then continue for 0:30 – 1 minute
  6. Check again and turn your “herb sandwich” over and heat for another minute

Gently Mix the Herbs Together In Equal Parts to Create Our Holiday Blend:

  1. Mix them together in a glass bowl
  2. Store in an airtight jar in a warm dark space

Do Not Cut or Crush the Leaves at This Point

You don’t want to release the essential oils yet. You will crush or cut them when you are ready to use them.

The Best Ways to Crush Them:

  1. You can chop them with a knife
  2. Crush them in a baggy (Warning: if you use your hands to crush them, you are mixing your oils with the herb oils and that’s not the best use)
  3. Use a coffee grinder and pulse for a few seconds until they are the size and texture you want

How long will they stay fresh?

They are at their peak for 1-week but they will still be good for a month.

If you make more than you need they make great party favors for your guests, so put them in a nice jar or in an airtight baggie with a bow.

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