Learn how to dry herbs at home: dry plant material – leaves, flower petals, seeds – in a food dehydrator, or on a drying rack standing in a warm, dry place. This is the easiest way to preserve herbs, and the best to use them in soap making, especially in infused oils or waters.
If you have a backyard garden, or even a small herbs garden in your apartment, at some point you will wish to know how to dry herbs at home. To make tea, enrich food flavour, or… make homemade soap and skin care products.
Table of Contents
- Water: A Medium to Grow Bacteria
- Can You Make Your Own Dried Herbs?
- Make Your Own Rack at Home
- Tips and Tricks On How To Dry Herbs At Home
Water: A Medium to Grow Bacteria
Fresh vegetables can go off. So do fresh herbs, flowers and leaves. They can rot, grow mold, and become a magnet to microbes, due to its water content however little it may seem.
This is why water-based products need broad spectrum preservatives (we will go there on another article). Water is a wonderful medium to grow bacteria, microbes and fungus, even the one inside plants.
This is also why it’s much safer to use dried herbs, leaves and flowers on natural cosmetics. Once dried, plant material usually has a shelf-life of one to two years. They last much longer than with water content, still preserving its plant properties.
Can You Make Your Own Dried Herbs?
Using a food dehydrator might be the most expensive way to dry your herbs at home, but it’s a sure way to work. Spread out your leaves or flowers along the food dehydrator rack and setup your food dehydrator to dry under low power. Take note of the best setup for each type of herbs, to repeat this process several times with same results.
You can also use an herb drying rack. Much cheaper to buy if you don’t have a food dehydrator. This is what I use. Just spread the herbs well and evenly in each “shelf”. With this rack, you are dependant of having a warm and dry area in your house. So, if you live in a cold/humid region this might not work. I’ve tried to dry rose petals in the winter and they just gained mold before drying completely.
However, in the summer, as I live in the Mediterranean region, with temperatures around 20º-30ºC, my attic gets very warm and dry. Rosemary, spearmint, lemongrass and other herbs I have in my backyard dry really well to a crispy consistency, without any mold.
As a last resort, and only if you really need the herbs in a very short time, you can use the oven on very low-heat. If you’re using the oven method, make sure to keep the oven door open a little to let the water vapor escape. Please, be aware that this method destroys some of the herb’s properties.
Make Your Own Rack at Home
As a DIY practitioner, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to encourage you to make your own drying rack:
Tips and Tricks On How To Dry Herbs At Home
I’ve used this video to learn tips and tricks on how to dry and store herbs at home. For example, I’ve learned to use airtight containers to store dried herbs. Check it out:
At the end, the herbs need to be crispy and bone dry. Store it at room temperature (not hot) in sterilized jars or ziplock bags. Shelf life of dried herbs is usually between 1 to 3 years. If you prefer, you can buy online dried herbs.
If you have a question or would like to share your experience with dried herbs, please leave a comment below.