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Drying Garden Herbs

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Even though my garden herbs are still thriving, I know the days are getting shorter and it will be cold before we know it! Depending on where you live and what herbs you have, some may keep a pep in their step longer or even all through winter.

I live in a colder climate, so I want to save my herbs to enjoy through the winter. Before our first frost, I will dig up some varieties to put in pots on my kitchen windowsill in an effort to extend their lives, but I like drying a good portion of them as well. Even if a transplant adjusts well to being put inside, it will not produce to the same caliber as it did outside in the summer. Drying a nice batch will ensure I have enough herbs on hand for all of my winter soups!

Garden herbs

There are many different ways to dry garden herbs... in the oven, in a food dehydrator, or the old fashioned way of hanging them upside down to dry! This is my favorite way because it requires minimal work. Wash and dry your fresh cut herbs and then gather each variety into small bundles.

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Then, simply tie each bundle in a bow or a slip knot with twine (I get rolls of twine at Dollar General for a buck each!). You can also use a twist tie or a rubber band to secure the bundles. Just make sure you are able to easily adjust the knot when the herbs shrink as they dry. Rubber bands work well because you will not have to adjust them. Twine is just a lot prettier and I also didn't have any rubber bands on hand :-)

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Next, hang the bundles upside down and store in a well ventilated location away from too much direct light, moisture, or grease particles lingering around a stove top. You can also cut a hole in the top of a paper bag and make a tent over the bundles to help shield dust particles. Oregano 3
I let my herbs hang out for 1-2 weeks until they are dry. (I don't leave them outside... I just took this picture on my deck while assembling because it was a beautiful evening and I wasn't ready to go indoors!) While you can sun dry your herbs, you will run the risk that they will be rained on or moistened by dew, and too much sun can zap out all of the fresh aroma you are trying to preserve.

When your herbs are dry, you can crumble them and then store in an airtight jar or ziplock bag. However, you retain even more aroma and robust flavor if you wait until using them to break the leaves apart. Just cut the stems with the leaves intact to fit your containers, or take whole leaves off and store. It is the same concept as using freshly cracked pepper.

 

"Life is a garden, dig it!" ~ Joe Dirt 

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