Summertime is coming to a close, which means that despite all your mint mojitos, rosemary marinades, and basil fruit salads, you probably still have a bunch of gorgeous herbs left in your garden that you don’t want to waste. Don’t worry, no need to toss them or slowly let them fade and freeze as the weather turns chilly! Drying your herbs is an easy way to enjoy their home-grown flavor all year long.
Here’s a list of things you’ll need: twine, some paper bags (I used re-purposed paper grocery bags, but you can use lunch sacks as well), tape, and some of your favorite herbs.
Before you begin, choose a location where you can safely leave your herbs hanging for an extended amount of time. When you’ve found your spot, string up a long piece of twine. Look for a place that is dry and warm, but has great air circulation so your herbs will dry quickly while keeping bacteria and mold growth at bay. Avoid the kitchen, where steam can add moisture to the air and bold scents can influence the flavor of the herbs.
Okay it’s time to head out to the garden! Cut your herbs mid-morning, after the dew has evaporated but before the plants have spent too much time cooking in the sun. As you harvest, remove any browned or wilted leaves and gently brush off any dirt and bugs. If the plants are muddy or excessively dirty, rinse them off with fresh water and pat them completely dry.
Once you have harvested and cleaned your herbs, gather them in small bunches and bind them together with 8-inch pieces of twine. Hang the herbs upside down by tying the bunches to your long piece of twine, leaving some space between each group.
Take a few minutes to cut your paper bags into approximately 10×10 inch squares. Roll them into loose cones around the herbs and secure with tape. This covering will help keep the herbs dry and dust-free. If you are using small, lunch-sized paper bags, poke a hole in the bottom and string your twine through to leave the herbs hanging inside the bag.
Your work is now done, let time do the rest! Depending on your climate, it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before your herbs are completely dry. When the leaves easily break or crunch between your fingers, remove them from the stems to chop, crush, powder, or simply leave whole. Store your finished herbs in an airtight container and use them for up to a year.
If you didn’t spring for a garden this year, this method also works great for preserving extra fresh herbs you’ve brought home from the grocery store.