Air drying herbs is probably the most common form of home preserving. You can successfully air dry herbs by following these guidelines:
- Choose a location for drying that is warm, dry and dark with good ventilation such as a garden shed or attic.
- Harvest your herbs after the morning dew has burned off, but before the heat of the day has warmed them.
- Pick the leaves and/or flowers off their stems and lay them in a single layer on a screen or breathable fabric. You may wish to cover them with a single layer of cheesecloth to keep the dust and debris off.
- For drying small leaved herbs such as thyme, or for drying flowers, tie stems together with string in small bundles and hang up-side down. Here’s a tip: If your drying space is dusty, place the bundles inside a paper bag. Punch some air holes in the bag to allow air circulation inside the bag. Once dry, remove the leaves whole from the stems.
- Optimum drying temperature is between 80 and 90 degrees. At this rate your herbs will be dry in a few days. Air drying herbs in cooler temperatures may take up to a week or two to dry completely.
- Monitor the herbs daily. Once they are thoroughly dried, (crackly to the touch), seperate the bundles and gently strip the leaves from the stems. It’s okay if the leaves crumble, they will take up less space in the storage container. Store your dried herbs in labeled airtight containers to preserve their flavor.