The Witch’s Herb Garden: Drying Fresh Herbs
I’ve always wondered about drying herbs (or any plant for that matter), I mean how useful would that be! But it all seemed so…mysterious? Difficult?
I had already started an herb garden, just a small one, a little of this, a little of that (everyone loves mint right). All those nice herbs were just going to seed until I decided to give drying them a try. Here’s what I learned along the way.
What do I need to get started?: Very little. Of course you need the herb you would like to use (doesn’t really matter where you got it, maybe you asked a neighbor nicely…). Maybe a little something fresh to throw in your cooking, maybe a little something to use in a spell, your choice.
I use sowing thread to hang my herbs, you can buy a pack of it for super cheap at the local massive chain store of your choice. A little piece of cloth is also useful, just to wrap around the herbs to keep off dust, but this is optional really.
The last thing is something to store them in. You can use any glass jar or plastic container you’d like, just make sure it’s clean, dry and sealed. If you want to do powered herbs you can pick up a neat set of glass vials from the craft store for about ten dollars. I love these, they work so perfectly! The bonus is if you get the right set you can just keep them all tidy in the package.
Let’s get drying!: I suggest starting small, do a little test batch if you can, three or four leaves/sprigs of your chosen plant. I just recently dried some oregano for spaghetti, it came out splendid!
It’s usually suggested to harvest to leaves early in the morning after the dew has dried up, simply for fuller flavor, but if you’re drying something strong like sage or oregano this isn’t all that necessary. Try both ways if you like, or just one, maybe you’re not an early riser.
Pick the best leaves (but not all, unless you want to kill the plant), wash them, dry them a little. Shaking them dry should be sufficient but patting with a paper towel never hurts either.
Take them by the stem and tie them together. I like to double my thread over then tie the end to the stem so that you have a neat hanging loop all ready to go.
Here’s the hardest part, find somewhere to hang them!
For years I was under some strange impression that herbs were supposed to be hung in the sun, not true. The best place is somewhere shady and dry, the least humidity the better. Otherwise you might end up with a moldy rotten mess.
There are all kinds of clever ways you can hang them. One of my favorites is the idea of a simple board with hooks, maybe some cute words painted on it, but no need to get fancy (unless you want to). Just hang them anywhere you could hang anything else.
Now it’s time to wait. It won’t take any longer than a week. The thinner the herb the faster the dry. If in doubt, check them every few days.
Once they are dry it’s all up to you what you want to do with them, the world is your oyster! I like to crush mine to powder and store them for use in cooking, and maybe an odd spell here and there (the more time and care you put into a spell the better).
Have an herb garden? What are your favorite herbs to grow? How do you use them?