Cooking Techniques

Drying Herbs

Kitchen Notes

It’s time to preserve frost-tender herbs like sage, so you can enjoy their flavor and aroma in your cooking all winter long. Drying herbs is easy and a fun weekend activity to do with the kids. All you need are scissors, twine and high, dry places (like mantles, curtain rods and cabinet knobs) to hang your herbs from after you’ve arranged them into little bundles. It’s a homey sight to see the bouquets dotted around the house and wonderfully fragrant as well.
Homemade dried herbs are fresher and taste miles better than the store-bought kind.

Basic Ingredients

Sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves, and marjoram all air dry well. Try lavender too. And don’t forget chili peppers!

Moisture-laden herbs like basil, chives and mint preserve better if you freeze them rather than trying to dry them.

Easy Steps

If you’re harvesting the herbs yourself, cut them mid-morning when the dew has completely evaporated from the leaves. Look over the herbs you want to dry. Discard any brown, yellowing or broken leaves. Shake off any dirt or insects. Don’t wash the herbs. Strip the leaves off the stems at the bottom. Gather the herbs into small bunches, tie them at the bottom and hang them upside down with a piece of twine to dry. You may need to tighten the twine after a few days as moisture leaves the herbs and they contract.

After a few weeks, when the herbs are crispy dry and crumble easily at the touch, carefully remove the leaves from the stems and store them in a sealed container or plastic bag, so air doesn’t sap their aroma or taste. Be sure the herbs are completely dry before you do so, if there’s any moisture they can get moldy in the jar or bag.

Tasty Combinations

  • Parsley, Sage and Rosemary are perfect for poultry, especially turkey
  • Bay leaves are wonderful in slow cooked casseroles and stews
  • Basil and Oregano for tomato based sauces
  • Dried chili peppers add kick to soups and braised meats

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