Dry your own fresh herbs, and I bet you’ll never use store-bought herbs again. Not only will it have much more flavor, but it is also a savvy way to avoid high store prices. Of all the methods to preserve produce, drying herbs in your oven is the easiest. Furthermore, you will never pull another zip-lock bag of slimy, green who-knows-what from your refrigerator. Regardless of your good intentions to use them before they rot.
It is so quick that you can frequently dry small amounts. This way, you will never have stale herbs in your pantry. It takes only three easy steps and no need for special equipment. Most importantly, cleaning up will be a breeze.
Step 1 — Prepare the herbs
Give the fresh leaves a thorough rinsing in cold water. Place them between two paper towels and gently pat them dry. There must be as little moisture as possible on them when you put them into the oven. You can dry hardy herbs like rosemary on their stems because the leaves will easily come off the stems once dried. However, remove the stems of less hardy types like parsley and cilantro.
Pre-warm your oven to the lowest setting, 150 F or 70 C. Although you know your oven best. Line a baking sheet and spread the leaves out on it.
Step 2 — Dry the herbs
Place the baking tray on the middle shelf of the pre-warmed oven. Avoid moisture trapped in the oven by propping the door slightly open with a wooden spoon handle. If you close the oven door tightly, the moisture will slow down the drying process. Importantly, keep an eye on the herbs in the oven because some, like cilantro, could be ready to take out within 30 minutes. If this is the first time you do this, I suggest checking them after 30 minutes and then in 10-minute intervals. Test them by crumbling the leaves between your fingers.
Another tip is to make a note of the time it takes every time you dry another type for the first time. It will make the process much easier when you dry herbs in the future.
Step 3 — Store the herbs
Once dry, they are ready for storing. Leave them to cool down completely. Then you can either break them up using your fingers, which is easy when they are dry. Alternatively, you can use a spice or coffee grinder. However, be careful not to grind them to powder. It’s best to pulse your grinder once or twice and check it each time.
The final step is to pour the dried herbs into small containers with airtight seals.
Lastly but noteworthy
Keep in mind that your dried herbs will be more potent than store-bought dried or fresh hones, especially if you do frequent drying. One reason for dried herbs from your grocery store losing flavor is that manufacturers do mass production. When you buy a jar of dried herbs, it might have been dried, packed and stored months earlier — or even years. About using dried instead of fresh produce, note that the drying process concentrates the flavors. I suggest you use only a third of the quantity of fresh herbs your recipe calls for. For example, use one teaspoon of rosemary instead of 1 tablespoon, which is equal to 3 teaspoons.
So go! Go! Go! What are you waiting for — go dry some herbs 😉