Knowing how to dry fresh herbs in a flash is a skill I wish I would have learned long ago. How many times did I let leftover basil languish in my refrigerator, only to toss it out? Way too many! How many times did I make a run to the store because I ran out of dried thyme, only to feel like it lacked flavor? More than I can count.
If you’ve ever purchased dried herbs in a grocery store, their flavor and fragrance are no match to fresh. Those dried herb jars are already old, and they’re also expensive. Once I started growing herbs, I never looked back. Nothing tastes better than your own basil picked from the garden.
One of the best things about fresh herbs, though, is that you can also dry them easily. That’s nice when you have an abundance of, say, oregano, like I do. I can easily harvest and dry big bunches of it rather than have it go to waste. I use oregano in a lot of recipes, and I can testify that my dried oregano tastes better than anything I’ve found in a store!
Important Things To Know About Herbs
If you want to use fresh herbs from your garden in your cooking, the best window of opportunity for their use is relatively short. It’s best to harvest them before they bolt, or flower, for the best flavor. However, not everything you grow in your garden cooperates as you planned. Last year, for example, my dill didn’t grow well so I ended up buying some to make these 5 Minute Homemade Refrigerator Pickles. The bunches at the grocery were huge, way more than I needed, so drying the extra was an easy way to keep from tossing it into the compost pile. You can do the same with herbs you buy at the store too.
Drying Fresh Herbs
In the pioneering days, women bunched up herbs and hung them upside down to dry. Although you can still do it that way, pioneer women also had entire days set aside for cooking, washing clothes, sewing, and the like. There was no way to do anything in a flash way back then. Today, thank goodness, we have modern conveniences to let us get things done much easier and quicker! When I have lots of herbs to dry, I like placing them on this drying rack for several days.
However, sometimes I’m cooking and realize I am completely out of a common dried herb and need it stat. For those situations, here are my favorite ways to dry fresh herbs I have on hand quickly, and without a lot of mess.
Air Fryer Herb Drying
For small amounts of larger herbs, like basil, the air fryer is a nice way to make quick work out of drying herbs. Just place them on a rack or in the basket and set your timer for 3 minutes at 360 degrees. Let them cool and then test them. If there’s still moisture in the leaves, repeat the cycle, adjusting the time if necessary.
Microwave Herb Drying
For smaller herbs, like oregano, place the herbs between sheets of paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds. Repeat if necessary until the herbs are dry and crispy.
Oven Herb Drying
Believe it or not, the oven is the perfect way to dry large batches of herbs. Place your herbs on parchment-lined baking sheets. Make sure the herbs don’t overlap each other on the baking sheet. Bake at 170 degrees for 40 minutes, or until they’re dry and brittle.
Storing Your Dried Herbs
Resist the urge to crush your dried herbs right away. Store them intact in glass, labeled jars in a dark cupboard. Crush the dried herbs with a mortar and pestle only when you’re ready to use them in your favorite recipe for the best flavor and aroma. Your dried herbs should last for about a year.
Watch the Video!
Now that you know how to dry fresh herbs in a flash, prepare to get addicted to drying them yourself. You’ll be thrilled with the delicious difference they make in all your favorite recipes!