Herbs have been an important part of our history and are still to this day as important for their culinary and medicinal uses as well as their application in fragrances, dyes, repellants, or cosmetics. Herbs grown in the home garden can be used fresh or can be dried and stored for later use.
When and How to Harvest:
> For peak flavor it is usually best to harvest before the herb flowers
> Cut the stems in the morning just after the dew has dried
> Annuals can be cut at ground level
> For perennials, harvest about 1/3 of the stem
> Rinse the cuttings in cold water to remove any soil or bugs
Although a less energy-efficient method, you can also dry herbs in the oven. Place a single layer of herbs in a flat shallow pan and dry in an open oven at temperatures no higher than 180 degrees for 2-3 hours.
Last but not least, another option is to place the clean leaves on a paper plate or paper towel in the microwave and heat in 30 second intervals for 1-3 minutes. Mix the leaves at each interval.
Note that herbs dried in the oven or microwave may lose some of their flavor, oils, or color.
You will know your herbs are dried when they crumble easily. Now they are ready to be stored.
By: Sabine Ehlers, CMG - 5/19/2012
How to Dry Herbs:
Loose Leaf Method:
Remove the leaves from the stem and place them on an absorbent towel or a screen. Flip regularly to make sure they dry evenly on all sides.
Long stems can also be tied into small bunches and hung upside down in a dark, dry area at a temperature of about 70-80 degrees. Hanging the herbs in the dark helps to preserve their green color.