Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Drying Herbs

I have blogged quite a bit this summer about herbs in my learn an herb series. However, for most of us, we can only grow or find fresh herbs for a part of the year. Herb can be useful in teas, salves and baths all year long, so if you want access to herbs all year round, you will want to dry and store herbs during the summer when they are plentiful.
Drying herbs is easy. Cut the part of the herb you are using when it is at it's peak. For flowers this is when the flowers have opened and not started to die. For other parts of the herb, check the web to find out the best time to harvest.
Line a cookie sheet with a paper towel, lay herbs on the paper towel so that they are spread out and not touching or minimally touching. Cover with another paper towel. I actually rarely ever have paper towels, and I would think this step could be done using kitchen towel, but I have never actually tried it myself. I just happened to have some leftover paper towels from my home birth.
Once you prepared the tray, turn on your oven light and stick the tray in. The heat from the lamp is actually the perfect temperature to dry herbs. The downside to this is that they take a day or two to fully dry, so you need to make sure to remove them before preheating your oven!! Alternately, you can dry herbs outside, but they shouldn't be in direct sun, and the wind can easily blow them, so you need to pay fairly close attention.
Once the herbs feel dry, store in glass jars with lids. Check jars a few days after drying to make sure there is no condensation inside the jars. If there is, the herbs need to dry more. Store in a cool dry place. herbs will be the most potent when they are freshest, so if using for medicinal purposes try to use within 6 months to a year at the longest.
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  1. I'll have to check out your "learn an herb" series. I have an herb garden that I inherited when we moved into our home four years ago, and I still have no idea what most of the plants are! Well, I think I've got oregano and mint...anyway, I'd love to be able to use the herbs in recipes and such.

  2. I just hang dry my rosemary and lavendar. And when I put it into jars, I leave the lid off for a few days to let any lasting moister escape if needed. HOPING to plant calendula next year!

  3. I dry quite a lot of herbs for teas and other purposes, but I just spread them out in the warm room to dry. I also store them in paper bags rather than jars- they take less space and some of them should not be stored in the light, so glass wouldn't do good to me. Paper bags also takes away the possibility of condensation, if they haven't dried properly ;)
    I'm glad to hear that more and more people start to use what nature gives us to preserve for later in the year :)