Dried Herbs

Dried herbs have eluded me until recently. I don’t have a dehydrator (yet) and often oven drying will bake the delicate oils and flavors of herbs away. In Maryland the climate is often very humid and not conducive to air drying foods. I have had limited success with making celery salt, but until now I’ve had trouble getting herbs to dry well and maintain their flavors.

Lucky for me, in our new place we have a few windows that are hot, dry, sunny spots in the house, and have been perfect for drying herbs I’ve grown, including rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, shiso perilla, mint, tarragon, lavender, and mugwort. I’m happy I can finally create my own dried herbs for winter seasoning or herbal infusions.

To dry herbs, cut them with some stem. Tie up in bunches at the stem and hang in a dry, warm spot like a windowsill. Check each day. When the herbs have lost all moisture and are papery, pack into sealed small jars or bags. I use the same method to save coriander and dill seed heads for seasoning and seed. Use in all manner of things:

  • Italian seasoning: combine equal parts rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, and marjoram, optionally include a small amount of dried chili flake.
  • Herbs de Provence: combine rosemary, savory, oregano, tarragon, and lavender.
  • Sage tea: infuse 1 tsp of sage at 90° F for 3 minutes.
  • Mint tea: infuse 1 tsp mint at 85° F for 3 minutes, enjoy before bed for a soothing tea.
  • Dream pillow: Stuff a reuseable tea bag with dried mugwort, place under your pillow to better remember your dreams.
  •  Add a 1/2 tbsp red shiso to pickled ginger or iced green teas for a pleasant pink hue.
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