While freshly picked herbs produce the best flavours, there is always an abundance that cannot be used in a single season. The next best thing is to dry your herbs! Dried herbs can be used for a variety of purposes, including flavouring recipes and creating a fragrant fire starter.
Drying your herbs is a simple and inexpensive way to enjoy them beyond the growing season! When we talk about herbs, we’re referring to the green-colored leaves of various plants. Spices, on the other hand, are the flowers, fruit, seeds, bark, and roots of tropical plants that are more pungent than herbs.
When to Harvest:
To get the most flavour out of herbs, harvest them at the right time. Herbs harvested before they flower have the most flavour. If you use a lot of fresh herbs, they might never flower. If that is the case, and you want to enjoy the flavour during the non-growing months, make sure to harvest them before the weather cools at the end of summer to get the most flavour out of them. Concentrate on one type of herb at a time, and only cut back what you need. Unless you are ready to replace it, avoid cutting back the entire plant.
8 Steps to Harvesting and How to Dry Herbs:
- Cut healthy branches from your herb plant.
- Discard any damaged leaves as they have already lost their flavor. Yellowed leaves aren’t worth saving.
- Gently shake the cut branches to remove insects and excess soil as you won’t be washing the stems.
- Remove the bottom inch of the stem and the lower leaves to allow room for tying. Place the leaves aside – you can add them to the bag on their own.
- Tie 5 or 6 stems together with either string or a rubber band. Make sure to check in on them as they dry as herbs shrink down and may slip out of the band.
- Place herbs in a paper bag, stem side up. Tie the end of the bag closed, being sure not to squish herbs.
- Poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation.
- Hang the bag by the top in a warm, well ventilated room.
Your herbs are ready to be stored once they are dry enough to crumble. Dry herbs should be stored in an airtight container, such as a small canning jar or a zippered bag. You now have freshly dried herbs to enjoy all year!