How to Dry Your Own Fresh Herbs

Our ancestors used to grow different herbs and then dry them, preserving them for use later in the year. Why then, do we feel as though we have to use our garden-grown herbs right away and spend up the nose for a jar of thyme or oregano?

No more! Fresh herbs and chilis can be bought cheaply at most farmers markets or grocery stores if you do not grow them in your garden. Now you can learn how to dry your own spices- from cayenne peppers and jalapenos to thyme and rosemary! It is an incredibly easy process that will save you a lot of money in the long run. Plus, these home-drying methods will leave your herbs, spices, and chilis much more flavorful than their store-bought counterparts.

I will describe two separate methods- both very simple. First, I will explain how to dry spices using the old-fashioned way-or air-drying for weeks- or the modern way-using an oven to dry them within hours.

Air-Drying Herbs, Spices, and Chilis

Materials Needed

1 small paper bag (lunch-sized)

1 pair of scissors

2 six to twelve inch pieces of string

First you need to wash thoroughly and dry your herbs, spices, or chilis. Remember you won’t wash them again before cooking with them, so be sure and do a good job. Lie your herbs out on the counter until they are visibly dry.

Using your scissors, poke 5-8 holes on each side of the bag to ensure good ventilation.

Next, gather your herbs and spices up into a bundle and tie a string around the stems. Tightly tie the string because the herbs will shrink over time as they dry out. Place them inside, upside-down, of the small punctured paper bag. Then using the second string, firmly tie closed the paper bag.

You will need to find a room that gets neither very hot nor very cold but is well ventilated. Hang the bag of spices where it will not be bothered by human activity. It will need to remain there for 2-3 weeks.

Let your herbs dry for 2-3 weeks, or until they are visibly dehydrated. Then carefully pick off the herbs or spices from their stems and crumble them into an airtight jar and use as desired.

Oven-Drying Herbs, Spices and Chilis

Materials Needed

Baking Sheet


Pre-set oven to 180 degrees.

As in the air-drying method, wash and dry your spices, herbs, or chilis thoroughly before beginning.

Place fresh herbs, spices, or chilis on baking sheet. Place them in the oven and leave the oven door cracked a bit. Leave them in the oven, turning occasionally with a spatula, for 3-4 hours. Once dry, crumble herbs or places chilis in an airtight jar.

Your sealed herbs, spices, and chilis should keep for years, but they will lose their flavor slowly over time. For the best results, use sooner than later. You will notice that your home-dried herbs, spices, and chilis are infinitely more flavorful and delicious than store-bought spices.

You can use either of these methods for: rosemary, thyme, oregano, fennel, cayenne pepper, serrano, jalapeno, sage, marjoram, dill, bay, and many more!

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