Drying Herbs the Easy Way

drying-herbsMy favorite way to dry herbs is to use nylon mesh hampers that have cloth handles. These were designed for college students, and they come in various colors. They are also collapsible for easy storage, so we have several of them and we usually dry four to five different herbs at a time.

We have installed hooks used to hang plants in the ceiling of our carport, and we loop the hamper handles over the hooks. Since we have a lot of wind in our area, looping the handles over a second time secures them from being blown off the hooks and they can dry in the shade of the carport.

The herbs need to be stirred up occasionally to separate them and make sure they are getting enough air, and it is easy to just hit the bottom of the hamper a couple of times as you go by. Some dry within just a couple of days. If it is going to rain it is better to take the hampers and hang them indoors. Even though they are protected under the carport, it is still better to put them in a place away from the moisture while they are drying.

Herbs on stalks – Cut the whole stalk, and put it in the hamper.

Leafy herbs like comfrey – These are more compact, so I leave the stems on the leaves and put just a small amount of leaves in each hamper, and I stir these more often.

As you put the herbs in the hamper you will get more of a feel about how many to put in as you see how much they compact. I usually don’t fill the hampers more than one-third full.

When the herbs are dry, just strip the leaves down off the stalks. For comfrey or mullein leaves, wear gloves and crumble the leaf off the stems. You can use a coffee grinder if you want to powder some of the dried herbs. Store the dried herbs in separate bags. When the herbs are in the bags you can crumble them up some more. I prefer using the gallon size plastic storage bags, but not the kind with sliders. You can also store the dried herbs in jars. Keep the stored herbs out of the light, in a pantry or other cool area.

Thanks to Sharon Devin for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest. We have over $1,500 in prizes lined up for the current writing contest, with more to come. Here is a list of the current pot of prizes:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $380 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $279 value
– 1 year of free membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $240 value
– A copy of The Summer of Survival Complete Collection from Life Changes Be Ready, a $127 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $60 each
– The complete 2014 Grow Your Own Food Summit interview series, a $47 value
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $42 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $40 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $32 each

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  • Fayette says:

    This is an excellent idea, not only is it an easy way to dry herbs, but it also is a way to conserve resources as no electricity or gas is used in the drying process

  • Bets says:

    A great & useful idea.

  • JJM says:

    Great tip.
    I have been drying herbs and produce (chopped) on old cookie sheets placed in my BBQ pit which is exposed to sun over half the day. Protected from critters, wind, and rain but not as much ventilation as the hampers offer.
    Also occasionally will put the sheets in the oven after a meal is cooked, during the cool down, particularly with tomatoes and peppers.

  • Gudrun B says:

    Love the idea – I will look for some!
    So far i have fared well with clothes-pinning my mint and comfrey to a wire hanger and hanging those up where there is air flow 🙂

  • Credit Lady says:

    I am 70 yrs old and I recall my mother air drying herbs and fruit on a screen frame in our back yard. She covered the screen with a cloth to prevent insects invading her harvest. Now I understand that wire type window screen is not recommended. So I was very happy to find the perfect substitute – a flat sweater clothes drier at the local Salvation Army resale store. In Florida, I am sure there isn’t much need for one of those! But it’s great for delicates if one has the room. It was approximately a 3′ x 3′ square mesh with approx. 6 inch legs that allowed you to stack one on top of the other. The mesh has small holes that prevent seeds from slipping through. The legs were removable for easy flat storage in a closet or under a bed. I have been using a screen made from plastic mesh from the craft department at a local store. I used 1″ x 2″ inch wood to build a frame and stapled the plastic mesh onto it. The depth of the wood allows air to circulate and I can stack one on top of the other with the wood providing a divider wide enough to allow continual air flow while in the fresh air on my back porch. I have 3 dehydrators I found at yard sales for not more than $5.00 each, but I still like doing it the old fashioned way with air drying.

  • Mike63Denver says:

    You are better and brighter than I am.

  • C Ashton says:

    Could you do this with garlic bulbs as well?

  • rafael says:

    Practico y preferible al sistema de secado con calor.

  • Shoshona says:

    I thought herbs needed to dry in a dark space, like a closet or dark room?

  • Corinae says:

    Try clipping longer leaves and stems to the sides with bobby pins to get them neat and straight.

  • Era says:

    Does this work in extremely humid areas as well? We have humidity that doesn’t go below 85% for 9 months of the year. We have run into problems with a solar dehydrator and also with a solar oven because of this issue. Does just drying it in shade work? I have read/heard from numerous sources that herbs need to dry in the dark so they do not lose their essential oils. I dried a huge batch of basil in the electric dehydrator over night but I would have to constantly be running the machine to dry all of my herbs. I really really love this idea if it works in high high high humidity and heat that is constant. Thank you for sharing!

  • Rick Callaway says:

    I use my old tires to plant squash, cukes, tomatoes, lettuce, onions, etc. I stack two tires on top of each other, fill with peat, manure, and the top soil. Mix well and plant. Had maters on July 2nd, onions are ready, sage is on it’s second cutting and I can sit on edge of tire to do all chores for keeping a garden. Thanks for your time.

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