If your herb garden is giving you the gift of too many fresh herbs at once, drying them is such a wonderful option because you can enjoy them for months as you cook with them or use them in your spellwork.
* Cut herbs from the garden and bring them inside right away. The best time to cut herbs is in the morning before the plants have been stressed by hot sun.
* Rinse them, carefully shake as much water off into the sink as possible, very gently pat them dry with clean towels, then lay them flat on the towels until they were completely dry. Note: it’s important to not bruise the leaves while rinsing and drying, because bruising releases the oils (flavors) of the plant.
* Removed the leaves from the stems. This is such a perfect job for little hands! My girls loved helping, and their hands are the perfect size for removing tiny leaves.
* Place the leaves in single layers on baking sheets. (I use silicone mats on my baking sheets.)
* Each tray of herbs went into the oven (middle rack,) heated to 175 degrees F. 2 trays in the oven at a time.
* The key is to vent the oven door (I placed a dish towel in the door to prop it open slightly.) If the herbs bake, their essential oils are destroyed and the flavor deteriorates.
* The parsley and oregano trays were in the oven for 1 hour until they were dried. Basil took a bit longer, at 1 hour and 20 minutes. You’ll want to keep a very close eye on the herbs while they’re drying.
* You’ll know your herbs are completely dry when you can crumble them between your fingers.
To store dried herbs, put them in air-tight jars (Ball jars) and keep them in a cool, dark place. They’ll last for up to a year, however, I’ve noticed that flavor starts to deteriorate after around 6 months.
Another other herb drying method I would recommend is hanging. Carefully wash and pat dry the stems of herbs, then tie them into small bundles with a maximum of 10 stems per bundle. They need to be hung in a dark, dry and warm area with good air circulation for around 3 weeks.