Early this summer, M and I made an herb garden in what used to be a water feature that never came to fruition. Since then, I’ve harvested and dried herbs a few times. This was by far the biggest haul of the year. Since growing and drying my own herbs, I have vastly improved my cooking skills. There’s something about dried herbs that were harvested fresh from the garden that completely elevates any dish.
This is a simple DIY with only four things needed:
1. Scissors- or garden shears if you’re fancy
2. String or twine- bonus points for seasonal decorative twine
3. Clothes pins- or as M and the film industry calls them, C-47s. I had a difficult time recalling the actual name of them because C-47s stuck for some unfortunate reason. (If you want to skip the twine and clothes pins, you could buy an herb drying rack. I prefer to make my own hanging apparatus as I can customize it each time for different amounts of herbs.
4. Fresh herbs- for this project, I used sage, rosemary, basil, Italian parsley, thyme, and catnip for the kitties. You can use just about any herb that you like if these aren’t your cup of tea. You could also use fresh herbs bought from the market if you don’t happen to have any growing.
Step 1: Harvest the herbs with your scissors or pruning shears. It’s best to harvest early in the morning between 7 AM and 8 AM in our gardening zone (zone 5b). Click here to find your zone.
Step 2: Sort all herbs into piles according to how you will use them. I grouped them by type of herb, fresh or dried, and my leftover pile for making sage sticks. We are dealing with a weird powdery mildew on a lot of our plants, and some of that got on our herbs. The rosemary was the most affected, so I decided to make sage sticks with the mildewy rosemary and other leaves that were past their prime. The mildew burns off when lit so you won’t detect it. You can use any herb that appeals to your ol’ factory. Might I suggest not adding catnip? It smells like cat pee to me, so I wouldn’t want to waft that around my home.
Step 3: Gather small bundles and secure them with your twine or string. Be careful when tying the bundles as crushing the leaves will release its oils and flavor prematurely. Then your dried herbs may not taste as hearty as you’d like. I try to tie them by the stems and not the leaves which doesn’t always work with each herb. If you’re using a drying rack, you can just clip your herbs to your rack. If you find the clips on the rack are not enough for you amount of herbs, you can certainly hang the herbs with the bundle and tie method.
If saving some to use as fresh herbs, group those by type and put them in a jar with water like fresh flowers. This will keep your fresh herbs from wilting before you can eat them. I saved sage, basil, and Italian parsley to use fresh and they are still going strong in their jars today!
Step 4: Using your twine, hang a piece that we will clip the bundles to. In the picture above, I used orange and black string for my primary string. After hanging that, I clipped the ends of the strings on the bundles to the primary string. I shook them gently to ensure that none of the herbs would fall to their doom.
Step 5: Wait at least 2 weeks or until all leaves in your bundles are crispy to the touch. Each type of herb will take different amounts of time to become crunch. Once your herbs are fully dried, remove the leaves from stems and store them in an airtight container. I bought new jars for this and labeled them with some oil paint markers. It looks lovely sitting on my self, and I enjoy sprinkling a few herbs into hum drum weeknight meals to liven things up.
Keep in mind that dried herbs are stronger than fresh herbs. If the recipe calls for fresh herbs, you can certainly sub dried herbs for the fresh herbs. For example, if the recipe calls for three TBSPs of a fresh herb, use one TBSP of your dried herbs. I find that my dried herbs are even stronger than the ones bought in the grocery store.
I hope you enjoy! I am by no means an expert on this, so I’d love to learn from you if you have tips. You can leave them below in the comments section.