Tips for Drying & Storing Herbs
I like to have large flat baskets on hand for drying herbs. It's an easy way to ensure they have circulation on a breathable surface, and I can move them as needed to optimize warm, dry, and dark areas of the house. These are really easy to stack and put away under a bed or on top of the refrigerator, pantry, or bookcase, etc. when not in use. Plus they are beautiful and easy to find at yard sales, thrift stores, and flea markets.
Harvest your herbs mid-day or after noon, as morning dew can cause leaves and flowers to have excess moisture.
Do not over stack the plant material, as this will make it difficult to dry fully.
Make sure you turn the herbs over a few times in the drying process. It helps to have them "in the way" and in a visible place so you remember to do this.
Dry as whole as possible, removing only some main stems and branches. I like to keep leaves in tact (as shown above) to keep the quality high. Once something is crumbled it has more surface area that becomes exposed and therefore deteriorates faster. I dry whole and store as whole as possible in a big glass jar with a good lid.
It is important that your material is 100% dry before storing, as any excess moisture will accumulate in the closed jar and cause mold. Crumble up a sample leaf or flower to ensure it's fully dry.
When you go to use some of your dried herbs, you can crumble as much as desired for using in tea. Sometimes there is such a big harvest that it takes months to go through your supply, and it's very satisfying to freshly crush herbs and smell them as you use them.
As you use herbs, gradually reduce the size of your jar as the volume decreases. You want as little oxygen in the jar as possible to maintain freshness. For example, go from 1 gallon jar to 1 half gallon, to quart to pint to cup, etc. as you use your dried herbs.
Store in a dark cupboard, pantry, or shelf for maximum potency.
I hope these tips help as you harvest your beautiful herbs from the garden!