Oven drying: briefly and cautiously finish drying herbs in a 100 degree Fahrenheit oven or 125-150 degree Fahrenheit oven with the door left open a bit.
When herbs are dry from any of the above methods, they can be crushed, chaff discarded, and stored in airtight containers in a dark place.
Freezing: place clean, whole or chopped herbs into freezer bags. Or, puree herbs in blender with oil or water, and place in ice cube trays. Generally, blend 2 cups of washed foliage to 1 1/2 cups of water, or 6 cups of foliage to 1/2 cup of oil. Store bags or cubes in freezer.
- Store dried herbs in air tight containers such as zip-loc bags or canning jars. Don’t forget to label and date them. Your herbs will retain more flavor if the leaves are stored whole and crushed just before use.
- Discard any dried herbs that show the slightest sign of mold.
- Place containers in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
- Dried herbs are best used within a year. As your hebs lose their color, they are also losing their flavor.
- Use about 1 teaspoon crumbled dried leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh herbs.
Common Herbs to Harvest and Preserve:
Herb What and When to Harvest How to Preserve
Anise – Flowers and leaves when seeds turn brown Screen dry
Basil – Prune top 1/2 of plants whenever lush growth before flowering Screen dry then oven crisp or freeze
Borage – Prune tops for early leaf harvest. Then, top half when flowering Screen dry leaves, freeze flowers in ice cubes
Chamomile (perennial) – Prune as desired if for ground cover Screen dry
Caraway – Seedheads when brown Screen dry
Catnip – Top half early and late summer before blossoming Bunch dry or bag dry
Coriander – Foliage as needed, but allow some to go to seed Bag dry seedheads or freeze
Dill – Top half of plants when seedheads are beige; may give foliage a light trim earlier Bunch dry or freeze
Fennel – Whole plant when flowering; may give foliage a light trim earlier Bunch dry or freeze
Lavender – Cut back top third of branches just before flowers open Screen or bunch dry
Lemon Balm – Top half early, mid, or late summer before flowering Bag dry or bunch dry
Lemon Verbena – Top half mid-summer and early fall before bringing inside Screen dry
Marjoram – Top third mid-summer and early fall before flowering Screen dry then oven crisp
Mints – Top half or more in late spring, mid-summer, and early fall Bunch dry, bag dry, or freeze in ice cubes
Oregano – Cut top half in summer before flowering, then again in early fall Bunch dry or bag dry then oven crisp
Parsley – Outer leaves when lush, leaving central growth Bunch dry, oven crisp, or freeze in bags or ice cube
Rosemary – Top one-fourth when established and lush Screen dry or bunch dry
Sage – Prune top third in early spring and again in mid-summer Screen dry, bunch dry, or freeze in bags
Savory (Winter) – Prune tops lightly when lush growth in spring and summer Screen dry
Sorrel – Cut back flowering stems for later crop Use young leaves for cooking or freeze
Sweet Woodruff – Cut back half of plant when flowering in spring and repeat in early fall Screen dry
Tarragon – Prune top half in mid-spring, summer, and fall Screen dry, freeze in bags or cubes
Thyme – Top third in spring, when lush, and before flowering Screen dry – Top 1/2 when flowers turn from gold to brown.Screen dry or bag dry – Top half in mid-summer and early fall before flowering Screen dry
This has been a guest blog by Anna Linder of Naturally Urban. If you would like to read more from Anna follow this link: