Summertime brings an abundance of herbs to the garden. Drying them properly allows you to store them and use them later for cooking or flavored oils. Once you learn how to dry herbs, you’ll discover dozens of uses for them. They even make great gifts!
Gather the fresh herbs from the garden, preferably in the morning after the dew has dried but before the heat of the sun has had a chance to wilt the leaves.
Spread the leaves out on a clean surface to dry, or tie them into loose bundles and hang to dry. This will take several days. If you’re impatient or need them right away, you can nuke them in the microwave. Start out at 1 minute, check for dryness, and continue at 30-second increments until the leaves are dry and crisp.
Strip the leaves from the tough stems. Working with 1 herb at a time, crush the leaves into pieces of the desired size. If you prefer ground herbs, you can whir the dried herbs in a clean electric coffee grinder. Pack the grinder as full as you can get it. Grind until the leaves are reduced to the desired fineness. It helps to hold the grinder and shake it a little as it grinds.
If there are tough bits of stem remaining, sift the herbs through a fine sieve to remove them. Store in air-tight jars in a cool, dark place for maximum freshness.
Bonus Tip: Use dried herbs to make flavored oils. Place the dried herbs into dry, sterilized bottles. Warm olive oil below a simmer (don’t boil it) just until you can see some movement in the pan, but no bubbles. While the oil is hot, use a funnel to pour it into the bottles over the herbs. When the oil is cool, cap it and let it sit for a minimum of 2 weeks to allow it to absorb the flavors of the herbs. Pour it through a strainer into new sterilized bottles, removing the steeped herb. If you like, add a sprig or 2 of a dried herb or a few peppercorns to the new bottles for visual interest. Keep in a cool, dark place and use within a couple of months.