Organic Gardening in an Urban Setting

Drying and Preserving your Herbs

  The drying out of herbs for use later in the year is simple and about as cost effective as you can get.For cooking, herbal teas, or medicines the process is the same.

  Simply cut sprigs of your favorite herb about 6 to 8 inches in length. The leaves should be clean, dry and free of insects or disease. Most herbs are at their fullest just before flowering and have their largest collection of essential oils at this time. One exception are mints which seem to peak just at their flowering stage.

   Next bind a few sprigs together at the base. As the herbs dry out the stems may shrink so watch that the bundles do not become too loose and fall apart. These bundles are simply hung on a line upside down and allowed to dry out. They should be ready in a few weeks. They will retain more pungency if they remain on the stalks till needed and in fact some infusions are stronger when the stalk is included in your preparation.

  You can protect your bounty from dust and other air borne contaminates by placing the herb bundles in a plain paper bag and tying it shut around the stems you have bound together. The paper allows air and moisture flow while protecting your goodies.  Moisture is not your friend and drying out damp plants or having inadequate air flow will cause them to mold.

  After drying out your greenery, store it in a sealed glass jar away from direct heat and sunlight for up to a year but are best in the first few months of storage. Be sure to label your containers with the name of your dried herb and the date it was packaged as memory becomes fickel over time ;)