Herb Garden
Published January 16, 2023 by Nicole Burke

My Favorite Way to Dry and Store Herbs from the Garden

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Dry Herbs and Flowers from Your Garden for Year-Round Enjoyment

Today I want to tell you just how easy it is to cut herbs from your garden, dry them, and save them for use all year. Let's look first at some of my favorite herbs to dry.

My Favorite Herbs to Dry

I dry bundles of these herbs to use their fragrant flowers and/or leaves in the kitchen or in dried floral arrangements around the house:

Anise hyssop is one of my favorite herbs to both grow and dry. It's a perennial herb in the Lamiaceae family, along with many of the herbs we enjoy, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sage. Anise hyssop has this gorgeous purple flower that the bees and the butterflies adore and that makes a wonderful tea. I leave blooms on the plants as long as possible so the pollinators can have their little party first, and then I gather leaves and flowers to dry.

Anise hyssop and lemon balm are both extremely cold hardy. These two herbs were usually the first plants I'd see reappear in the new year when I lived in Chicago after even the most brutal of winters.

Sage is a standout for its ability to hold its fragrance when dried.

how to dry herbs from the garden

How to Dry Herbs from Your Garden by Hanging Them

The two best methods for drying herbs to retain their flavors are air drying and using a dehydrator. I'm going to focus on air drying today, but check out this post for garden coach Dr. Laura Christine's method for drying herbs in a dehydrator. (She also has some great recommendations for making herb infusions.)

My favorite way to dry herbs is simply by hanging them upside down. Harvest herbs from the garden, wash them to remove any dirt and debris, give them a spin in a salad spinner, and then remove lower leaves from the stems so that you have about an inch and a half of bare stems at the bottom of each sprig. Gather these bare stems and tie them in bundles with twine or fishing line.

Place these bundles to dry on a clothing line or an herb drying rack, like this one from Amazon. The key though is to dry your herbs somewhere cool, dry, and dark. Light can strip your herbs of that great flavor you're trying to preserve. I like to pick a spot away from too much household action to prevent my herbs from gathering dust while they're drying.

Herbs with more tender leaves like mint are prone to growing mold if exposed to too much moisture. Check your herbs regularly and toss any herbs that look like they're starting to mold.

dry herbs how to

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How to Tell When Herbs Are Dried

Most herbs will be pretty dried out after just one week, but I recommend giving them another two to three weeks to be sure all moisture is gone from the leaves. You'll know your herbs are fully dried and ready to be stored when they have that nice, crunchy texture. The stems should feel brittle and easily crack if you bend them; if they're flexible to your push at all, that's a sign there's still moisture left in the herb.

dried herbs

How to Store Dried Herbs

To help them retain their flavors, it's best to store herbs in airtight containers kept in a cool, dry, and dark spot. I like to use amber-colored jars like these Ball jars from Amazon to protect the leaves inside. (I also like the wide mouth on these jars, which makes it easy to fit lots of herbs in there, including entire anise hyssop flower spikes.) If your jars are clear, just make sure to keep them out of direct light.

Pull the leaves (and the flowers) from the stems over a plate and pour them into the jar. It's best to keep the leaves whole now and then crumble them to release the flavors (from the oils inside) when you're using them in a dish. Fill the jar to the brim and then screw the lid closed to keep your herbs as airtight as possible.

Most jars have a little spot on them where you can write the date that you're storing whatever's inside. I recommend labeling each jar with the date and the name of the herb.

I also buy sets of smaller 4-oz. glass jars like these to store herbs in my spice rack for quick and easy use in the kitchen. I like finding pretty glass jar sets and filling them with different homegrown herbs to give as gifts to friends and family. It's a great way to share the garden and the abundance of herbs you might have after your growing season.

how to dry herbs by hanging

My Favorite Dry Herbs to Use for Teas

I love having lots of different herbs on hand to use when I feel inspired to cook, which is not every day, but I use dried herbs for homemade teas on a near-daily basis in the winter months.

Lemon balm and anise hyssop both make great teas, as do chamomile, mint, and calendula (pictured below).

how to dry herbs for tea

Dried Herbs vs Fresh Herbs

As you use up the herbs that you've stored, remember that dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh, meaning a little bit can go a longer way.

And that's all it takes to dry and save herbs from your garden for winter. Imagine having your own year-round supply of herbs that you grew yourself so that you don't have to spend money on those little plastic packets of leaves at the store anymore. It's possible to grow enough of your own herbs, even on a small patio or balcony, to use them fresh during the growing season and then harvest enough to dry for the colder months.

This concept of a year-round herb supply is a major focus of ours here at Gardenary. We're on a mission to encourage every single person to grow their favorite herbs at home, whether that's in a sunny windowsill or in a large kitchen garden. Herbs can be grown in a very small space, they grow quickly, they don't require a lot of tending, and it's so simple to harvest and store them.

If you've never tried growing herbs before, I can't recommend it enough, and we've got a course called Herb Garden Guide inside our membership program Gardenary 365 to help you get started.

Thanks for bringing the garden indoors with me one herb at a time!

Learn how to grow your own herb garden

Join Gardenary 365 to access our complete online gardening course library, including the Herb Garden Guide, Salad School, and Microgreens. There's no other place to grow your self online like this!

Some of the links in this article are Amazon affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you if you click on the link and purchase the item. All opinions remain my own.

My Favorite Way to Dry and Store Herbs from the Garden