Herbs are some of the easiest things to grow in a garden, in a flower box or even on your window sill. For the most part they need little maintenance to thrive. This year was my hardiest crop of herbs ever. I did a tiny bit of research to find out what I had to do to keep my basil going for an entire season and it worked. The trick was to prune back as it flowered up top. Check YouTube, it’s a wealth of information for us common folk.
As the season was coming to an end I hated the thought of losing all the great herbs I’ve been growing. I did a little more research and figured I’d give drying my own herbs a try.
All you need is parchment paper, an oven and some containers to hold your dried herbs.
Trimming off your herbs is the first step. First morning is usually not the best time as they might still be damp. Give it a few hours then go ahead and snip. Cut more than you think you’ll need especially thing like thyme, rosemary, oregano and parsley. Basil is a little trickier. Once a stem has started to flower or the leaves have started to lose their flavor. Try to stay away from these.
I give all of my stems a firm shake and run through my fingers. Since my herbs are in flower pots I don’t have to worry about too much dirt or problem from the dogs. Shaking them vigorously gets rid of not only dirt but bugs and dead leaves. No need to be really gently.
For the Basil pluck each leaf leaving as much stem as possible. Everything else can stay on its stems. Place your herbs (one type at a time) on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Pile it on.
Preheat your oven as low as it will go. Let it come to temperature then place your herb filled cookie sheet in the oven and turn off the heat. Set a timer for 30-40 minutes.
Check your herbs. If they are still pliable give them another round in the oven.
Let them cool then remove the leaves. Run your fingertips along the stems and gently scrape them off. Sometimes you are left with tiny “twigs”, please remove as much of them as possible.
Once your leaves are sorted tranfer them to a tight lidded container for use. Hold onto the sheet of parchment for the next batch and keep reusing. Try stacking multiple cookie sheets in the oven to dry more at one time.
- My oven goes down to 170°F so it never got too hot to scorch the herbs. If you find your oven doesn’t get below 200°F let it cool an extra couple minutes after turning it off and then placing your cookie sheet inside.
- Don’t crush your dried herbs when your picking them or transferring them. Crush them as you use them.
I’ve done several batches of Thyme, Basil and Oregano. These are the herbs I use the most. Don’t let this stop you from drying whatever it is you are growing.