Drying herbs is easy, and one of the best ways to keep them longer. In this post, you’ll learn all about how to dry herbs, including the best types to use. Then I’ll give you step-by-step instructions for six different methods you can try, and tips for storing dried herbs too.
If you’ve ever tried growing herbs in your garden, you know that you usually end up harvesting way more than you can use up before winter.
If you’re like me, you’ll want to make the most of your bounty so you can continue using them long after the growing season has ended. There are lots of ways to preserve herbs, and drying them is one of the easiest.
The best part is that there are so many different ways to do it. Based on your space and time, you have your pick of several methods to choose from.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed guide for drying herbs…
- Types Of Herbs To Dry
- How Long Does It Take?
- How To Wash Them Before Drying
- How To Dry
- How To Store Dried Herbs
Types Of Fresh Herbs To Dry
The good news is that you can use any type of herb from your garden. So pick your favorite, and give it a try. Here is a list of some common ones that are the perfect ones to start with:
- and more
Related Post: 11 Easy Herbs To Grow In Your Garden
How Long Does It Take To Dry Herbs?
Every type of herb dries differently (thicker ones take longer), and the humidity level is also a factor. Depending on the method you choose to use, it may take a few minutes (drying in the microwave, for example) to a week or so (hang drying, for example).
If you want to dry them faster, then try using the microwave, a dehydrator, or your oven. Below you’ll find details on several methods you can try, and how long each one will take.
How To Wash Herbs Before Drying
Even if they look clean, I’d give them a good rinse under the sink to make sure there aren’t any bugs or dirt on them. Here’s the best way to wash fresh herbs…
Step 1: Rinse the leaves and stems by placing them into a bowl, and filling it with cold water. You can rinse them under a faucet, but I’ve found that it’s harder to tell when they are truly clean that way.
Step 2: Gently swish them around in the bowl, and dump out the water when you’re done. Repeat until the water in the bowl is clear after swishing.
Step 3: Once they’re clean, gently pat them with a towel, or spin them dry using a salad spinner. It’s very important that there’s no water left on them. Otherwise, it will take much longer for them to dry, and they’ll have a higher risk for molding.
How To Dry Herbs
Once you’ve picked and cleaned your fresh herbs, you just have to decide how you will dry them. Different methods work better for drying some types of herbs than they do for others.
So experiment with the different techniques to figure out your favorite, and see which method works best for each. Here are a few of my favorite methods to use for drying herbs…
A food dehydrator works fast, and cuts the drying time down to only a few hours. Plus, you don’t have to worry about burning your herbs like you do with the oven method.
Here’s how to dry herbs in a dehydrator…
- Spread out the stems or leaves on the trays, and place them into the dehydrator.
- Use the lowest setting you can. My dehydrator has a setting for herbs, so use that if yours does too.
- Check on them every hour, and remove any pieces that are completely dry.
Using An Herb Drying Rack
Alternatively, you could spread them out on paper towels, and leave them on the counter. There are two major downsides to this: they take up counter space, and it’ll take the herbs longer to dry.
When using a drying rack, it usually takes several days for the pieces to dry. Allow a couple of extra days for the paper towel method. The more you spread them out, the quicker they’ll dry.
Here’s how to use a drying rack…
- Spread the herbs out on the rack, spacing them far enough apart so they aren’t touching. Don’t pile them on top of each other.
- Put the rack in a dark, cool, and dry spot where there’s good air circulation.
- Check on them every couple of days to test for dryness, and make sure they’re not molding.
Hanging Herbs To Dry
Hanging bundles of herbs is another great method, and they look so pretty. All you have to do is hang them upside down. Don’t make your bundles too big though, or they have a high chance of molding.
It can take a week or more for the bundles to dry, depending the type of herb you’re using, and how moist they are. The drying time also depends on the humidity.
Here are the steps for hang-drying fresh herbs…
- Bundle about 5-10 stems into a bouquet.
- Using twine or string, tie the base of the stems together. Leave one end of the string long enough to use for hanging. Or, instead of tying bundles, you could also use an herb hanging rack.
- Hang your bundles in a dry, cool place where they’re protected from sunlight. If they’re in the sun, the color will fade.
- Every few days, check the bundles to make sure they’re drying, and that there’s no sign of mold.
Drying Herbs In Paper Bags
Using a paper bag is another easy method. It will also keep the leaves protected, so they won’t make a mess if they’re disturbed. Depending on humidity, it will take your bagged herbs about a week to dry.
Here’s how to dry herbs in paper bags…
- Poke several holes in the bag for ventilation using a sharp object, like a pencil, knife, or fork.
- Take 3-5 stems and place them into the bag upside down, with the stems poking out the bag opening.
- Wrap the open end of the bag and the stems with a rubber band to keep them in place.
- Hang the bags using the rubber band as a hook.
- Check on them in about a week. You’ll know they’re ready if they crumble to touch. If not, leave them for another 3-5 days.
Drying Herbs In The Microwave
Using the microwave is by far the fastest method, and one of my personal favorites. But, you have to be very careful. If you leave them in the microwave for too long, they will burn.
Here how to dry herbs in the microwave…
- Spread the stems or leaves out on a paper towel or plate.
- Set the microwave for one minute, then check to see how dry they are.
- If they aren’t dry yet, then run the microwave in 15-20 second intervals, checking the herbs after each one. You’ll know they’re dry when they feel crunchy.
Drying Herbs In The Oven
Using your oven is another quick way to dry herbs. But just like with the microwave method, you’ll need to closely monitor them to make sure they don’t burn. I like to set a timer so I don’t forget about them.
Here’s how to dry fresh herbs in the oven…
- Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature (I use 200F, but ovens vary).
- Spread out the herbs on an ungreased cookie sheet, and put them in the oven. You can also line the cookie sheet with parchment paper first, to catch any broken off leaves.
- Check on them every 10 minutes, and remove each of the pieces as they are dry (some pieces may take longer than others). Don’t leave them in too long, or they will burn.
How To Store Dried Herbs
Before storing them, you need to make sure the herbs are completely dry. You’ll know they’re ready when they crumble to touch.
You can store dried herbs as they are, or crumble them into pieces using an herb grinder. If you decide to crumble them, you should remove the stems.
To store them, you can use spice jars, paper bags, decorative canisters, mason jars, or any other container you already have around. Just make sure to keep them in a dry and dark location, like in a cabinet or the pantry.
Oh, and don’t forget to label them, especially if you crumble them. Otherwise, you may have to smell several of your containers to figure out what everything is.
How Long Do Dried Herbs Last?
Dried herbs will last for years, they never go bad. However, they do start to lose their scent and flavor after a while. So, it’s best to make a fresh batch every year or two to replenish your stash, and toss out the old ones. That way you’ll always have the freshest supply in your cabinet or spice rack ready for your next recipe.
Drying fresh herbs doesn’t take much time, and you have several options to experiment with. Plus, you can dry any type of herb you have in your garden, which make it tons of fun too.
More Herb Preservation Posts
- How To Freeze Herbs Fresh from Your Garden
- How To Dry Lavender From Your Garden
- How To Freeze Chives From Your Garden
Share your tips or favorite methods for drying herbs in the comments section below.