Drying Herbs Easily: Best Hacks and 4 Methods Compared

Drying Herbs Easily: Best Hacks and 4 Methods Compared

How to dry herbs quickly & easily! Best hacks with pros & cons of 4 ways of drying herbs: air drying, in food dehydrator, oven or microwave. Each year at at harvest time, it`s easy to be overflowing with garden herbs!

Drying Herbs Easily: Best Hacks and 4 Methods Compared

Why don`t we dry them, put them in spice jars to use in our favorite recipes and to share as delicious gifts? 

We all LOVE those charming photos of drying herbs and bouquets by hanging them in a country kitchen or a farmhouse cupboard. However, this method is not the best for drying fresh herbs of all kinds. Brittle herbs such as thyme, dill, basil, oregano, and sage would end up with stems and leaves sprinkled all over the floor. 

Today I want to compare 4 most popular techniques of drying herbs, which are air drying, in a food dehydrator, oven drying, and microwave drying. At the end I will share my favorite hack: a fun and effective way to dry herbs easily, and fashionably too!

By the way, this method is also a great way to save garden seeds, and attract fairies! You do believe in fairies, right?
Comparison of 4 common techniques for drying herbs. 

You can dry herbs indoors or outdoors. No matter which method you use, the most important keys for success are: low humidity, good air circulation, and no direct sunlight. 

There are four common techniques for drying herbs. They are oven drying, microwave drying, using a food dehydrator, and air drying (my favorite). The main goal of drying herbs is to let the fresh herbs lose all the moisture quickly before mold can develop, while preserve the essential oils, flavors and nutrients as much as possible. Let`s compare the 4 popular methods and see the pros and cons of each. 

Technique 1: Drying herbs in the oven. 

To dry herbs in the oven, rinse them quickly, place the herbs on a baking sheet in the oven at maximum 180 °F (82 C.) and dry them for about 2 to 3 hours with the oven door slightly open. 

Pros: easy, can be done indoors any time of year in any weather, even in humid climate. 

Cons: herbs can become cooked if oven temperature is higher than 180 °F. It is also uses more energy than some other methods. 

Technique 2: Drying herbs in the microwave

To be honest, this is my least favorite method. 

Pros: It's very easy, just heat a small bunch of herbs in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. 

Cons: The main reason I personally do not use this method is that it is difficult to determine if the herbs are "cooked" or "dried". Did you know that when cooking food in the microwave, the food can be super-cooked on the outer edge of the
while the central part is barely warm? I prefer natural low heat drying, which preserves most of the herbal flavors and nutrients.

Technique 3: Drying herbs in the dehydrator. 

Keep the food dehydrator temperature between 95 °F and 105 °F. Place the herbs in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. It can take from one to four hours to dry the herbs depending on the variety. 

Pros: This method is what professionals use to dry large quantities of herbs. It is a very reliable way to produce highquality dried herbs. 

Cons: Need to buy a food dehydrator. It also uses more energy than air drying. If you are into food preservation, and have room for a bigger food dehydrator, here`s one of the best designed DIY solar food dehydrator building tutorials. Exposing fruits and vegetables to direct light can cause vitamin loss. This design uses solarheated air without any electric fans to dry food. All the food (and herbs) are kept out of direct sun. 

Technique 4: Air drying herbs (my favorite!)

There are many variations of air drying methods. Always dry herbs out of direct sun to maximize the flavors and nutritional benefits. If it`s humid outdoors, you can dry herbs indoors in a room or even in a closet. 

Herbs such as bay leaves, rosemary and lavender do not easily fall off when dry. You can turn a bunch of herbs upside down and hang them in a dark, slightly damp place to improve air circulation and dry.

However, many herbs and flowers like thyme, or lush herbs such as mint, dill, sage, basil, parsley, lemon verbena, become very brittle when dried and easy to dry in small bundles. It may collapse and reach the entire ground. 

Are you ready for a simple $ 1 herb drying hack?

Use a paper bag or our magical secret: ballerina tutu fabric, also known as nylon tulle. Both work in a very similar way. Tulle fabric improves airflow and makes it easy to see the progress.
Not only is this dough as thin as a wafer, but it is also shaped like a small container to prevent herbs from condensing. The fine mesh prevents dust and allows for proper air circulation. To dry the herbs, first get the dough (about $ 1 per yard at the dough store) and cut into 18-inch squares. Feel free to change the size according to the type of herbs you want to dry. Then tie a bunch of herbs and then tie the dough around the bunch. For small herbs like thyme, stick the twigs directly into the dough, then collect the dough and tie a string.

Hang these small bundles of herbs from a branch, make sure they are out of direct sunlight, and in a well ventilated space with good air circulation and protected from moisture such as rain. In 25 days, the herbs will be all perfectly dried and ready for use in the home!
Not only is this pretty fabric a great help for drying herbs, it`s also really useful for saving garden seeds. 

Seeds from these beautiful seed heads of cilantro, onion, fennel, and carrots can fall off before we catch them. We can save some at harvest time for the next season, while leaving plenty for our feathered friends. 

 To do so, just tie a piece of tulle around the seed head once the flowers finish blooming and seeds begin to form. As your seed matures, it falls into a bunch of cloth. How easy is it? And all the fairies in our garden love this dreamy fabric, so you'll be happy!
Store dried herbs in a cool, dark, airtight container away from heat, sunlight and humidity.