You have produced some seriously beautiful looking herbs, and maybe you cannot keep up with the herbs in terms of consuming them. One thing you can definitely do is dry the herbs and store them for long-term usage, perhaps over the winter or other times of shortage. The best time to harvest for drying herbs is right before the flowers open when the buds are bursting. Remember, dried herbs are often 3-4 times more potent than fresh herbs. So when you have a recipe that calls for fresh herbs use 1/3 to 1/4 of what it calls for in dry herbs. All of the equipment mentioned in this article and more can be purchased through my herb store.
There are a few options to drying your excess herbs.
- After harvesting your herbs, hang the herbs in loosely tied bundles in a well-ventilated room (recommended with more sturdy herbs, such as sage, parsley, rosemary, savory, and thyme). Tender leaved herbs, such as oregano, mints, lemon balm, basil, and tarragon, have high moisture levels and should be wrapped in brown bags to pull the moisture out. This is important as these herbs are susceptible to mold if not dried quickly.
- The harvested herb branches may also be spread on a screen or cheesecloth.
- If only the leaves are needed, cut them off and they may be spread on flat trays.
To keep dust off of your precious herbs, cover them with a cloth or similar protective material that allows moisture to pass through. It generally is best to dry herbs naturally in a cool, dark room rather than use artificial heat, such as a dehydrator. Although experts can use artificial heat, the flavor and quality may be lost when novices try this drying method.
The above herb drying rack shown in the picture drying herbs, is available on Amazon (below and to the left). Another more serious option that can hold TONS of herbs is shown below to the right. I like the more serious version better because the mesh is going to keep more dust and other particles off of your precious herbs.
When the herbs are thoroughly dry, crispy and crumple between your fingers, seal them in airtight containers such as fruit jars, and store them in a cool, dark location. Any sign of moisture accumulating in the jars indicates the herbs are not thoroughly dry.
Pulverize the flower stalks before putting them in jars. Store the foliage either pulverized or as whole leaves, depending on their intended use.