The classic picture in most people’s minds of dried herbs has them hanging in bunches from broad wooden beams in a gloriously rustic kitchen. Hanging herbs to dry is one way to go, and if you have a naturally sunny and hot location for them, it should take 8 – 10 days. The trick is to make sure enough dry air circulates around them, in order to make sure no fungi will grow on the leaves. Any kind of overtly humid climate/household will add to the challenge.
An easy short cut (though admittedly not as picturesque) is to do it another way: a basic kitchen oven is the genius tool at hand. Line a cookie sheet with parchment baking paper. (Do not use wax paper as the wax will melt and smoke and ruin the process). Spread out the herbs in a thin layer on the paper. Set the oven temperature to 110 f. Electric ovens are better than gas, if possible. Keep the oven door open a bit if your lowest temperature doesn’t go down to 110. Don’t use a fan (convection) oven. Delicate leafy herbs will only take about an hour to dry, while sturdier ones a little longer. Check periodically and when they are easily crushed in your fingers, they are ready.
To retain the flavor and fragrance of dried herbs, store them in dark glass or pottery containers with tight fitting lids so the oils will not escape. Try to fill the jar all the way to the top so there is very little air remaining. If the jar is clear glass, then store in a dark cabinet away from light.
Never store in a plastic container, as the plastics will leach into the herbs. Most herbs will have a shelf life of two years, when dried, but check them from time to time by smelling and observing their color to make sure they haven’t gone bad.
That’s all there is to it! Check out the previous posts on my picks for the essential plants to grow for health, beauty, and healing. With very little time and money invested, you’re on your way to truly mindful self care. If you love to cook from scratch and consider the food you eat to be good medicine as well as sensual pleasure, then growing a few plants for their health benefits, as well as their lovely scents and beautiful colors, is the next step for you.
Power to the Plants!!