One of my favorite parts of fall is harvesting our backyard herb garden. I love being able to pick off my fresh leaves all summer but once the weather gets cold I hate seeing our plants die down. So towards the late summer/ early fall before the air gets too crisp we harvest our herbs for drying. These last us through the entire winter for soups, stews, and roasts.
The process is as follows...
Part 1: Air drying
-cut herbs from the garden (try to harvest early in the morning after the dew so you don't have to wash)
-if you need to rinse your herbs, rinse with cool water and pat dry on a paper towel
-bunch together herbs and tie loosely with twine
-hang in a cool dry shaded place with some space between each bundle (I whipped up this quick rack with a piece of wood and a few screws so I could hang them from a shelf in the kitchen which fit them perfectly)
-let dry (can take up to 2 weeks)
Part 2: Oven drying
-cut off twine
-remove any molded herbs after the drying process (this may occur with the more leafy herbs like basil and tarragon)
-remove leaves or foliage from stem and spread evenly on baking pan (we prefer air pans to help prevent burning)
-dry in the oven at 170 degrees until the herbs are dried to the touch and crumble... or are "crispy" as Kiel says (this usually takes about 30 mins but sometimes for the bigger leaves like basil it can take longer so increase time as needed)
-let your pan cool and remove your dried to funnel into a containers
I used large leftover baby food jars with labels from Martha's office line
You can dress up your jars with jute or baker's twine and these make great holiday gifts if you have any leftover!