Is it just me, or are herbs expensive? It seems like I have to pay $5 for a little itty bitty container, and if I want organic, the price is almost double.
Honestly, I’d rather buy an entire plant for $5 and have it produce for me year after year! I just threw my herbs in the ground and totally neglected them. Now they’re thrice as big and waving their leaves in the air like they just don’t care.
So how to harvest them and dry them so they’ll be just like you buy in the store? First things first: bundle up with your garden buddy.
Your herbs are probably ready to be harvested just before you think they are. Don’t be afraid to cut leaves from your plant with scissors or a knife. The plant will enjoy the pruning and will produce more leaves if you cut it than it would if you left it alone.
A good rule of thumb is to harvest 1/3rd of the plant. Harvest mature leaves from the bottom first.
2. Prepare your herbs for hanging to dry.
You might want to insert step 1.5 here and wash your herbs before you dry them. Personally I just look ’em over for bugs (and very rarely find any). If you’re gardening organically, you shouldn’t need to wash off any pesticides or chemicals… just dirt.
Get some string—any kind will work—and cut it nice and long. You’ll want to hang your herbs, not just set them out on a plate or something. Here’s why…
Tie your herbs by their stems with a loose knot.
3. Hang your herbs up, then wait a few days.
I hang my herbs from the mantle of my fireplace with simple Christmas stocking hooks, but you can do it in any dry location.
You’ll find that your herbs will shrink considerably as they dry.
As the water leaves them, so does a large amount of their mass. These dill and parsley were about the same amounts from the same plants, and look how different they are after drying!
4. Tighten the string around your herbs and let ’em dry for several weeks.
You’ll know your herbs are good and dried when they crumble easily at your touch. If they still bend and you feel like there’s still some water left in them, dry them for another week. If you store them before they’re dry, you run the risk of acquiring a lovely mold.
5. Prepare your dry herbs for storage.
Take your dried herbs down and crush them between your fingers. You can store them in a clean glass jar.
Check out the difference between my ‘gourmet’ store-bought rosemary and the rosemary from my garden. I’d bet my bottom dollar that greener equals healthier.
And that’s a wrap! If you store your dried herbs in a cool, dark place, they should last at least a year.
But as a side note… herbs are even more healthy fresh in a spaghetti sauce or some tea. Heck, my garden buddy even eats lemon-flavored sorrel straight from the garden!