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Harvesting Herbs Part II - Drying Herbs

Updated: 6 days ago





On any given day, you could step into my kitchen and see greenery hanging while smelling the sweet scent of herbs. They hang in any empty space I can find. In my personal opinion, they make me feel good even looking at them.


Air drying herbs is the easiest and most common way to dry your herbs. String or rubber bands can be used to tie the stems together to then hang (upside-down) in a warm, dry environment.


A trick I learned from The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies is “If you are collecting the seeds, tie a paper bag over the bundled stems and hang them. The bag will catch the seeds as the seed pods dry and they fall out.” (Page 34). We call this “going to seed.”  


Personally, I always let a quarter of my harvest go to seed. This process can take the better part of a month to complete. The amount of time it takes to dry a plant out depends on the plant and its moisture content. In some cases, the coating of the leaves can hold in moisture. In cases like these, it is easier to strip the leaves off of the stems and lay them on a drying rack (as with rosemary, for example). It is imperative that your herbs are to be fully dry before storing them. If your herb is not dried to its entirety, you risk problems such as mold.

In times past, we have used a dehydrator to dry herbs. If you go this route, diligence is required. The best dehydrators usually have a fan circulating warm air. This ensures that the batch of herbs are dried evenly. Just like cooking anything slowly, it’s best to use the lowest temperature setting and to keep a sharp eye on it. Watch closely for any signs of burning or singeing.


Finally, you will want to remove the seeds and stems after your herb is thoroughly dry. If you are dealing with smaller leaves, you can remove them from the stems by lightly pinching the stem between your thumb and forefinger and running it down, from top to bottom, until the leaves are detached.


If, however, you’ve got larger leaves with thicker stems on your hands, you will need to take a little more time. In this case, you will remove the leaves by cutting or pinching them off individually. When doing this, cut the stems as near to the leaf as possible.


And that’s it! You did it! Take your dried herbs, store it in a sealed (preferably glass) jar until you’re ready to use them. This method can be used with certain vegetables also. My husband and I dehydrated peppers, garlic, onions and other spices using a dehydrator. You can also dehydrate those abundantly growing tomatoes. A bushel of tomatoes can fit in one jar if dehydrated into a powder. Simply add a couple spoonful’s to a hot liquid and you have tomato sauce!


As a last thought, there are times when, even dehydrated, certain medicinal herbs can taste nearly unbearable (or maybe it’s a texture that makes you gag). Personally, slippery elm bark was a perfect example of what I mean. In these cases, I like to encapsulate my herbs. That will be what I write about next!

 

Resources:

Nicole Apelian, Ph.D. & Claude Davis, The Lost Book Of Herbal Remedies. Copyrighted by Global Brother SRL © 2019

 

About Me:


Hello, my name is Shannon. I joined FireKeepers International as a volunteer in 2023. In

2014, I began the Master Herbalist program at Trinity School of Natural Health and

completed the program in September of 2017. Since then, my main studies have been

Biblical truths, astronomy and the Hebrew language. I am a born and raised

“Michigander,” currently living in one of Northern Michigan’s beautiful national forests.

When I’m not keeping busy with the homestead, you can find me out in nature or

hibernating in my cabin.

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