If you have herb plants growing, now is the time to get some drying done before fall kicks in! You can easily add your dried herbs to many backpacking meals for late summer and fall.
Harvesting is good for your herb plants as well. It promotes growth and allows you to shape your plant as well.
There are a couple ways to dry your herbs. If you have a food dehydrator, herbs are one of the few things where temperature control is important, so if your dehydrator is a one temperature model, use the air drying method instead.
NOTE: Lavender dries best by air method.
For either method:
Cut your herbs early in the day just after the dew has evaporated but the hot sun has not hit them yet, taking nice sections of stem and leaves. Gently rinse off and shake dry, or pat gently with a paper towel. Take out any dry, or bug eaten leaves. Check over the sections, and only use the prime parts.
Dry herbs by themselves. Do not dry with other items, as herbs have lower moisture, and will also pick up other scents.
Break into manageable sections and lay on lined trays (either the mesh screens or parchment paper).
Put dryer on at no higher than 100* till dry. You can test by breaking a leaf, and making sure it is fully dry. Stems should be brittle and snap. You can also test by powdering a leaf.
Air Dry Method:
What you will need:
Twine & Paper lunch sacks.
Pick your herbs, making sure you take a good amount of stem. Take a couple bunches, tie with twine as if making a bouquet around the stem. Put the bouquet upside down into a paper sack and tie a bit more twine around the neck of the bag, having long ends on the twine. Use the ends to tie the bags to whatever is handy so the bag can hang. You want the bags to hang somewhere breezy and away from water and humidity. The drying will take 1-2 weeks or so. The paper bag protects from light, insects and dust. In warm areas with low humidity, you can use cheesecloth instead, just keep out of direct light.
Take the leaves off the stems carefully. Store whole in jars or ziploc bags out of direct light. Try to use in 6 months or so – perfect for late summer harvest, by the time you run out, spring is here! Mark each item so you know what it is.
Crumble up the leaves as you go to use them. 1 tsp of dried crushed leaves is equal to 1 Tbsp fresh.
What dries well?
My favorites are Thyme, Sage, Rosemary and Chamomile flowers. I have 3 types each of Rosemary, Sage and Thyme growing in my garden this year. Lavender is at 4 types. I love herbs and am always adding to my garden. This year I was able to get a new Curry plant as well, and am hoping to have time to dry some of it as well.