If you love to buy fresh herbs like I do, then you will inevitably have found yourself with an excess of herbs remaining because the grocery stores tend to sell them in large bunches.
Then comes the dilemma of what to do with leftover fresh herbs. Leaving them in the fridge hardly ever works because most herbs after 24 hours will wilt and begin to discolour. The other option is to pulse them in olive oil and store in the freezer (I’ll share this method later)……otherwise you end up wasting a tonne of good herbs.
A great way to ensure the longevity and not to waste these herbs is to dry them. There’s many ways to dry your herbs but I prefer to air dry them indoors. For one, you don’t lose the flavour of the herbs as much as you would if you dried them in the sun and you lose less of the colour as well.
You will need:
A 300ml glass jar with a tight lid
Twine or small rubber bands
Brown paper bag(s) with a few small holed in them
A hanger and an airy spot to hang your herbs
And of course your herbs
First wash your herbs if they aren’t already clean and pat them down with a paper or kitchen towel. Then start by tying your herbs into little bunches of about 4 to 6 sprigs. The smaller the bunch the better because then they dry faster.
NB: Herbs with larger and softer leaves like basil and sage will need special attention because they have a higher moisture content and usually take longer to dry. I recommend bunching the herbs according to individual types rather than mixing up a bouquet garnis.
Once the herbs are tied, place a few bunches upside down into a brown bag and then tie the neck of the bag. Make sure you don't overfill the bag or there will be too much moisture and the herbs may rot rather than dry out. Leave some loose twine hanging so you can then tie the bag on to a hanger or nail or wherever you will be hanging the bag.
Hang the bag up in a warm but airy room to allow for better air circulation and quicker drying. The time it takes to dry depends largely on the herbs being dried and the size of the bunches. Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano…tend to dry a lot faster because they have a lower moisture content while herbs like basil and sage take longer due to their higher moisture content.
Keep checking on your bag every couple of days to make sure the herbs are drying out (and in the case of the larger leaved herbs, not rotting) The drying process should take anywhere between 5 to 10 days so keep checking. Once the herbs are dry, you can shake the leaves off the stems and place them into an airtight container. Make sure you label each container with details of what herbs are inside and when they were dried. The herbs can be kept for up to a year but I wouldn’t recommend this because they lose their flavour and colour over time.
The dried herbs make a great addition when making stews and tomato sauces.