I wrote briefly a few weeks ago about the simplicity of drying your own herbs. The beauty of growing your own herbs is that you can pick off what you need when you need it. You don't have to worry about wasting $5 worth of herbs that would have cost you a few cents to grow. And while fresh herbs are great, there's also a time and place for dried herbs in your cooking, and they're great for infusing olive oil. In fact, you can dry them yourself and they're a huge money saver as well.
Different methods of drying herbs are effective for different varieties of herbs. And once you dry your own it's easy to store them for year-round use. Air drying is the method of drying herbs that I've talked about before. Moisture evaporates slowly and naturally during air drying, leaving the precious herb oils behind. Dehydrators can be helpful if you want to dry large quantities of herbs or if you want to dry a higher moisture herb like basil. But you can also freeze herbs. According to Pickyourown.com, sage, thyme, summer savory, dill, bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, and marjoram are sturdy, low-moisture herbs that are best suited for air-drying. Basil, tarragon, lemon balm, and the mints that have a high moisture content will mold if not dried quickly. So a dehumidifier or dehydrator works better. Chives are best frozen.
Dry Your Own Herbs
1. Cut herbs once they have flowered. Cut with a sharp knife and shake to release bugs and dirt.
2. Remove visible water. Choose a method for drying based on those listed above.
3. If you're air drying tie them together with a string and place in a paper bag so that it's not touching any sides.
4. Poke holes for ventilation and hangout to dry for about 2 weeks. If you're using the dehumidifier, lay the leaves out on a cake plate in front of a dehumidifier or use a dehydrator here if you like. Make sure no mold forms which ever method that you choose.
5. To release the full flavor, crush whole herb leaves or use a mortar and pestle to grind, just before adding to the recipe.