My herbs have been growing like weeds lately!
Or… well, like herbs! I think it’s time we change that expression because of how easy it is to grow your own herbs at home. This year I’m growing mint, lavender, oregano, parsley, and basil. My toddler had fun playing in the dirt with me to plant them and checks on them with me each morning while we let our Boston Terrier outside. We have only needed to water them a handful of times ourselves since God’s been sending the rain to help out with chores too.
But the fact that they’re growing so well has meant that I also have an overabundance of herbs! I’ve offered to bring some over to friends and I definitely take advantage of having fresh herbs in my cooking (and water!), but I still have a lot available. I prune them often so they don’t get too top-heavy. It’s great to see them nice and full, but I usually end up with more cut leaves than needed for my recipes.
There are many ideas which you can utilize to make your herb leaves last. I’ve frozen them in olive oil in ice cube trays to use later when sautéing, or creamed them in butter for a great compound butter treat on breads or steaks. But most of the time, I end up drying my herbs.
How to Dry Herbs in an Oven
Drying herbs are an easy, fail-proof method of saving them for later. It only takes 5 steps: wash, lay them out on parchment-lined cookie sheet, bake, crumble, and store. Easy peasy! Follow along as I dry some extra basil and parsley.
Preheat your oven as low as it goes.
Mine stops at 170 degrees, which works perfectly.
Clean the herbs.
After you’ve picked out the excess leaves you want to dry, rinse them in water, using your fingers to clean away any dirt. Pat them down with a cloth or paper towel so they aren’t dripping. It’s okay if they aren’t completely dry- drying them out is the whole purpose of the next steps. You can use a salad spinner if you want, but I don’t think that gets all the dirt out well, plus it’s harder to clean and I’m all about saving time.
Line a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan with parchment paper then lay the herbs out flat.
It doesn’t have to be pretty, just try not to let them overlap. It’s okay if some of them rip since you’ll be crumbling them later anyway. Also, the parchment paper isn’t completely necessary, but it’ll make cleanup and storage a lot easier later.
Place the tray of herbs on your top rack and bake for 2-4 hours.
Go relax in your hot tub with a refreshing glass of iced tea and a book for a bit. Ha! Orrr… if you’re like me, go switch the laundry over, give a couple dozen piggy-back rides from one end of the house to the other while singing about an itsy spider or to do the propeller, clean the bathrooms, dust and vacuum, then build the same tower out of blocks for your son to knock over again and again. I have to set a timer for 2 hours so I don’t forget the herbs and then they’re usually perfectly done.
Crumble and Store.
Once your herbs are dried out, you just have 2 more steps. When it is cool enough to touch, pick up the parchment paper so that all the herbs slide to the middle. You can crumble them (and enjoy the fabulous crunching sound!) at any point now. I like to roll the parchment paper into somewhat of a funnel while crumbling them so that I can easily slide them into my airtight container. (Just be careful of mixing your herbs if you dry more than one at a time.)
I fantasize about having adorable mini glass jars for each of my homemade dried herbs and how beautiful that would look. …But I’m also trying to save money right now so who cares? I just funnel them into the containers that used to contain the dried herbs I bought from the store. I even took some side-by-side shots for comparison of my home-dried herbs vs. store-bought.
Have your dried your own herbs? What do you think? Were you surprised at how easy it is? Let me know by leaving a comment below!