During the summer months it can be hard to use up all the fresh herbs we all have in the garden. Despite our best attempts there is still an overflowing bounty of aromatic leaves – in our case: sage, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. Because the winters in Seattle are generally pretty temperate, the plants themselves will survive the winter to produce again next year, but we still don’t want to lose those fresh spicy leaves of this season.
Luckily, drying herbs couldn’t be easier. All you need are some plain brown paper lunch bags and a bit of string or twine and a few weeks of patience.
First, the obvious: go out to your herb garden and use scissors to cut the amount you want to dry. Make sure to include enough stem beyond the leaves to hang the herbs with (this will make more sense later). At least 3” beyond the lowest leaves if you can manage it.
Label the paper bags first so that later on you can keep things straight. Most herbs are distinguishable by leaf size and scent, but as they dry sometimes it can get harder to tell, especially if you have some varieties close together (multiple varieties of thyme for example).
Separate the herbs into bunches small enough that there will be plenty of airspace around the herbs in the brown bags. For this size bag (smaller than your average lunch size), the max amount of herbs is about a 1” bunch. Invert the herbs into the bag, stem sides up. Lower the stems so that the cut ends are flush with the top of the bag (generally its ok if they hit the bottom of the bag, although as I said earlier y ou want plenty of airspace so the herbs dry and don’t mold).
Tie your twine tight around the paper bag at the 3” stem location. Make sure its tight enough so the stems won’t slip down as they dry.
Now, you can either hang the bags, or just set them flat side down in a cool dry location to start the drying process. The great thing about enclosing them in bags is that you don’t HAVE to find a place to hang them if you want to put them in a cupboard or something, and also the bag serves to collect leaves if they dry and fall off the stems. Give them 3-4 weeks and then you can de-stem and crumble/chop the dry herbs as desired.
If you do hang them, make sure you make a really cute fall garland like D did in our dining room:
[Yes, Jackie, we did repurpose some of your wedding favor bags 😉 The size was just too perfect!]
Pack them up cute and save for xmas gifts and winter recipes!