Basic Tips For Collecting & Drying Herbs
Growing your own
Whether you're collecting herbs for flavoring foods, medicine or beauty aids here are some basic tips for collecting & drying herbs:
1. Gather flowers when they are near full bloom but not after they are starting to die back. No brown petals!
2. Gather leaves and bark in the spring when they are young and tender.
3. Gather roots in the early spring (before anything appears above ground) or the late fall (after the aerial parts have died back).
Basic Tips for Drying Herbs
1. Clean herbs carefully, removing any dirt. They must be washed if you didn't grow them yourself. You never know what was on them!
2. Make sure they are totally dry and crisp before storing. Any moisture at all and they could mold. Ish!
3. If oven drying, use a cookie sheet and spread in a single layer. Use a 200 degree temp and stir often until crisp.
4. If air drying outside, spread on a screen (air must be able to flow through!). Dry in the hot sun. It will usually take 3-4 days. They cannot get rained on or have morning dew on them so make sure you can move them if you have to.
5. To store, crush them into powder, place in glass jars with a tight fitting lid and keep them away from heat and in the dark if possible.
6. For roots, wash thoroughly, slice thinly and allow plenty of time for them to dry. Store in airtight containers. Remember any moisture at all and they will mold!
7. For seeds, dry on paper or thin cloth, turn often and store in tight container.
8. Even though you want your herbs completely dry before you store, don't let them dry longer than necessary or they will lose flavor and medicinal properties.
It's very satisfying to grow, collect and dry your herbs. Give it a try!