How to harvest and dry herbs

Harvesting and drying herbs is practically a rite of passage for gardeners every Fall. Don’t know about you but I have gotten pretty spoiled by the free and much better tasting herbs growing right outside my back door! I know where they came from…they were grown organically…weird fertilizer free…etc. etc.

Since the weather is cooling (and we actually get below freezing over here), I am on a mission to save as much of my herbs as possible for winter use. I am growing parsley, two types of basil, oregano, rosemary and sage. TBH, I am not sure why I keep the sage since I only ever see it used in meat recipes. However, I have read it is a favorite for caterpillars (parsley too) so it is my gift to them!

This morning, I gave my oregano a serious haircut, rinsed it and am now drying it. That poor herb did not fare very well in the North FL sun this summer. I had it inside my greenhouse but it started to get Powdery Mildew so moved it outside. The mildew cleared up but the heat may have been a little much for it.

Harvested oregano

My oregano

Anyhoo, as I was rinsing it I thought I should check Pinterest to see how others are harvesting and drying their herbs. SO many experts for me to learn from!!

My favorite pins and articles are below. In writing this, I worked very hard not to repeat myself thus each article has its own unique perspective or tip. I am sure they will help you as much as they helped me!

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Four Methods For Drying Herbs

Alea over at Premeditated Leftovers gives us her four methods for drying herbs: air drying on a cooling rack, hanging to dry, drying in the microwave, and drying in the oven.

Frankly, it never occurred to me to dry them in a microwave. Interesting! She also gives a few paragraphs on how to prepare the herbs for drying. One tip she gives is to pick the herbs before they bolt (bloom). I never do seem to time that right!
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When And How To Harvest Specific Herbs

I like this article from Mini Garden North America because the author gives us advice for specifically harvesting most of the commonly used herbs-such as basil and oregano. She also gives us some pro tips such as her advice for harvesting basil – “Pinch off any flower spikes right away.” Or for parsley – “If you remove too many leaves from the wrong part of your plant, your herbs won’t collect enough sunlight to continue growing.” Good stuff!

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DIY Herb and Flower Drying Screen

Colleen at Grow Forage Cook Ferment gives us specific plans on how we can build our own herb and flower drying screen. There is a materials list, step by step pictures, and detailed instructions. Thanks Colleen!

Do you have woodworking skills? If so, this should be your next project!
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More Details On Harvesting, Drying and Storing Herbs

 

Rachel at Grow A Good Life gives us some great tips on the best time to harvest herbs in order to take full advantage of their flavors and aroma. She even breaks it down by the part of the plant you will be harvesting. i.e. Foliage vs Flower vs Seeds.

She also teaches us how to gather and harvest based on the herb type. i.e. annuals vs perennials, etc. Then she gives some instruction on drying and storing. Both plants and seeds.

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Another Method for Drying Herbs and How to Store Them

Preparedness Mama is pretty thorough in her article. One of the drying methods she recommends that nobody else does is to use a dehydrator to dry out the leaves. She recommends a temperature of 95F.

She also gives storage instructions. Something she teaches us that I have not read anywhere else is to keep the leaves whole until we are ready to use the herbs because crumbling them releases the oils. Hmmm. Why didn’t I think of that?!?

source.

Conclusion

Between these five articles, you will have all the information you need to harvest, dry and store your herbs. Besides the fact that growing and harvesting our own herbs is just plain FUN, we also get the satisfaction of knowing where those plants came from and how they were treated. An extra reason to sleep a little more peacefully at night!

 

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