How to Dry Herbs

If you want to dry your own herbs, the first step is to pick fresh herbs at the right time, when the oils are at their peak. The best time to harvest herbs for drying is just before the flowers bloom. Herbs are known for their fragrance and flavor, which come from the oils that evaporate when the leaves are crushed. There are different ways to preserve herbs. Drying herbs is the easiest method of preserving them. Here's how to dry herbs at home [source:Evans, Davis].

  1. Harvest the herbs in the early morning after the dew has evaporated. Take care not to bruise the leaves and not to leave the herbs in the sun after you've harvested them.
  2. Rinse the herbs and then gently shake off any excess water. Remove any damaged leaves.
  3. Air dry sturdy herbs, such a parsley, sage and thyme, by tying the stems into small bundles, using twine or string [source: UGA]. Hang the herbs upside down in a warm, dry place, where the air can circulate around them. Leave the herbs until they are totally dry [source: Evans, Davis].
  4. Oven dry more delicate herbs, such as mint or sage, as follows. Simply separate the leaves from the stem and spread out the leaves on paper towels. You can pile up the paper towels, making up to five layers. Dry the herbs in a cool oven overnight, by leaving on the oven light or pilot light [source: UGA].
  5. Heat a small amount of herbs in a microwave oven to dry them. Simply place the dry leaves on a paper towel and microwave them for 1 to 2 minutes on high power. Let the leaves cool. If they're not brittle, repeat the process [source: Evans, Davis].

Store your dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool dry place [source: UGA].