Your local plant nursery will tell you that herbs are usually at their best when freshly picked. But, if your plants are producing too much for you to use, drying and storing the leaves is a far better option than watching the herbs wither and die.
Preserving your garden herbs is a simple, inexpensive task. Here’s how the plant nursery experts of Millcreek Gardens recommend making herb gardens last all year long.
How to Harvest Garden Herbs
Mid-morning is generally considered the best time to harvest herbs. Cutting the plants soon after the morning dew has dried can help preserve flavor.
To harvest, simply cut healthy branches from your herb plants. Remove any leaves that appear dried or wilted and, if necessary, brush or shake away any insects. If the stems or leaves need a rinse, make sure to blot them dry carefully.
How to Air-Dry Garden Herbs
Plant nursery professionals recommend air-drying for low-moisture herbs, including oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and dill. To air-dry herb plants, follow these steps:
- Tie a small bundle of branches together, using a piece of twine, string or a rubber band.
- Place the bundle upside-down in a paper bag.
- Close the end of the paper bag, being careful not to crush the herbs.
- Poke a few holes in the bag for ventilation.
- Hang the bag in a warm, airy room.
Check on your herbs in about a week to see if they are dried and ready for storage. Keep in mind that, depending upon the herb variety, drying could take another week or two.
How to Oven-Dry Garden Herbs
Oven-drying is the preferred plant nursery method for herbs that have a high moisture content, including mint, basil, chives and tarragon. Here’s how to oven-dry your herbs:
Place a single layer of herb leaves on a baking sheet.
Put the baking sheet in an oven set on low heat, 180 degrees or less.
Leave the oven door cracked open a tiny bit.
Check the herbs in two hours. If the leaves crumble easily, the drying is complete. With some herb varieties, oven-drying can take up to four hours.
How to Store Dried Garden Herbs
For the best flavor, plant nursery professionals recommend keeping herb leaves whole – don’t crush them up for storage. To keep them fresh, place the leaves in airtight containers, like glass jars or freezer storage bags.
Dried herbs are best used within a year of harvest. So, make sure to label your storage containers with names and dates.
If you’re new to herb gardening and want more expert tips on growing and preserving herbs, head to Millcreek Gardens. Our friendly plant nursery staff is happy to answer your questions and share tricks to getting the most from all of your indoor and outdoor plants.
Millcreek Gardens is also fully stocked with everything you need for a bountiful herb garden. From seeds, plants and soil to pots, gardening tools, plant treatments and more, our garden center has it all. For the supplies you need to grow, dry and store garden herbs, visit our Salt Lake City plant nursery today.