Britney has a B.A. in Environmental Management and Sustainability. Cassie is certified in plant-based nutrition.
Drying Herbs in a Dehrydrator vs. Air Drying
There really is nothing like walking out to your backyard garden and picking some fresh herbs for an awesome plant-based recipe you are making. You cannot compare their taste to supermarket "fresh" herbs. Herbs at the supermarket are packaged in plastic and they taste mediocre at best. Not to mention they always seem overpriced and almost rotten.
Growing your own herbs is a complete game-changer. They improve so many great dishes and are stored extremely well if you chose to dry them! Drying is a great option, especially when winter is upon us and we do not want to waste any of our beautiful summer herbs.
Once dried, you can add them to your favorite soups and casseroles or you could even make your own custom herb blends totally unique to you and your taste. You can add them to salad dressings, pasta sauces, and really anything that you can think of!
There are two main ways to dry your garden herbs. Both methods have their pros and cons and totally depend on personal preference.
Two Methods for Drying Herbs
- Dry them in a dehydrator.
- Let them air dry.
How to Dry Herbs in a Food Dehydrator
Drying out your fresh herbs in a food dehydrator is an easy way to get your herbs dried quickly. We find this method extremely useful especially when harvesting a large number of herbs at once. If you find that the nights are getting colder and you think it is time to harvest all of your herbs at the same time, this method is definitely the way to go.
How to Quickly and Effectively Dehydrate Herbs Step-by-Step
- Make sure that you preheat your dehydrator between 95–115°F before you start anything so that your dehydrator is ready to go when you are.
- Cut your herbs from your garden in the early morning so that they do not go through any sort of stress in the afternoon sun. Make sure that you are harvesting your herbs before they flower. Once they flower, they tend to lose a lot of their flavor and may even become bitter.
- If you are growing an organic garden this step may not be as critical for you, but make sure to rinse your herbs and get off any bugs or parsley caterpillars (they are sneaky and tend to blend in very well).
- Pat your herbs dry with a paper towel so that you remove as much moisture as possible before putting them in the dehydrator.
- Try to remove any large leaves from the stem. They will dry easier.
- Place your herbs on the dehydrator trays. We recommend dedicating each tray to one type of herb because it's much easier to remove an entire tray if one herb tends to dry faster than another. Also, many people advise laying your herbs in a single, thin layer. If you have a huge harvest this might be unreasonable for you. We have tried to fit as many herbs as possible on the trays and it dried fine for us, it just took a little longer.
- When the leaves begin to crumble when they are touched, they are done! Let them cool a bit before storing.
Advantages of Using a Dehydrator
One of the biggest pros that we have found when it comes to using a dehydrator is that you can completely control the temperature and the amount of time you chose to dehydrate them. This is very beneficial because you do not want to risk losing any of the flavor or therapeutic aspects of the herbs.
Drawbacks of Using a Dehydrator
Although there are many benefits of using a dehydrator to dry your herbs, you should also be aware of the disadvantages of this method. A decent dehydrator that can handle a good amount of herbs will cost around $50–$100.
The dehydrator we use is awesome because there are six drying trays, which allow for a substantial amount of herbs to be dried at one time. We have even left this on with a timer overnight because sometimes there is just not enough time in the day!
How to Air Dry Herbs
Air drying herbs is nearly as simple as it sounds. Still, there are a few tips to remember to ensure that your herbs retain their flavor and don't succumb to mold!
Air Drying Your Herbs Step-by-Step
- Cut your herbs in the morning and wash thoroughly.
- Tie 5–10 stems together in a bundle and hang them upside down. Make sure that they are not hanging in direct sunlight or else they may become bleached and lose their flavor.
- If you are air-drying these indoors (recommended) then make sure that there is air circulating because they are more apt to develop mold if the air is stagnant.
- Usually, it takes about 2–4 weeks for all of the moisture to evaporate and then you are able to use them.
Advantages of Air Drying
Air drying herbs is an option that works especially well if you are trying to dry small batches of sturdier herbs such as sage, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves. This is probably the cheapest and most cost-effective way to dry your herbs.
Disadvantages of Air Drying
Be careful to avoid this method when trying to dry herbs that contain a high moisture content such as basil or lemon bomb. These types of herbs are more likely to develop mold if not dried quickly enough. Rarely do we use this method but when we do they turn out well!
How to Store Dried Herbs
Storing herbs in airtight containers away from any sunlight is ideal. A mason jar stored in your cabinet is perfect! Also, make sure that you are not keeping them where it is too hot for them. A dark cool place is best. Make sure that they are not in the cabinet above your stove.
Lastly, make sure that you label your jards by herb and the date you dried them. They look strangely similar once they are in jars right next to one another!
How Long to Dried Herbs Last?
A general rule of thumb is that dried herbs will last for about 1–3 years. That is a long time! Usually, we crumble all of ours up at once and put them in containers, but if you leave them as whole leaves and crumble them as you use them they will last you even longer.
If you have them stored for an extended period of time and are wondering if they are still good, open the jar and make sure that it still smells good. If there is no aroma coming from the jar, then it is not good anymore.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.