Gently rinse herbs if there is dirt or debris on them. Pat dry or use a salad spinner to remove excess water.
The flavor of herbs is best preserved when dried in cooler temperatures. Air drying is the best way to preserve herbs, but can take a longer time than some of the other methods. Microwave drying is the quickest method, but herbs dried this way lose much of their essential oils, making it the least desirable method.
Group small bunches of herb stems and tie together at the ends with clean string or heavy thread. Hang upside down in a warm, dark, well-ventilated area until completely dry (about 7-14 days depending on herb and conditions).
Spread herbs in a thin layer on screens or frames covered with cheesecloth and place in a warm, dark, well-ventilated area until completely dry.
Spread a thin layer on a cookie sheet and bake at no more than 100 degrees F with the door open. Check every 30 seconds until herbs are dry.
Place a few sprigs on a towel and heat on the lowest setting for 30 seconds at a time until dry and crumbly. Timing will vary with different herbs and various microwaves.
Storing Dried Herbs
Make sure herbs are completely dry before storing, otherwise they will mold. Remove leaves from the stem since the stem can take longer to dry and may become moldy in storage.
Store herbs in airtight containers (preferably glass), and keep them out of bright light, and away from heat.
Freezing Fresh Herbs
Freezing herbs is a great way to preserve flavor of fresh herbs, and can be done either dry in a plastic bag or in liquid in ice cube trays.
Plastic Bag Method
This method makes some herbs limp when thawed, but the flavor is preserved.
1. For leafy herbs, remove the leaves from the stem. Herbs with small, fine leaves should be left on the stem.
2. Place leaves in a thin layer (with room between the leaves) in a Ziploc bag, and place the bag in the freezer where it won’t get crushed.
3. Thaw the herbs out and use them the same as you would fresh herbs.
Ice Cube Tray Method
This method is perfect for adding herbs to soup, stir fry, roasts, and more!
1. Place either chopped or whole herbs into ice cube tray.
2. Pour olive oil, melted butter, broth, or water into ice cube tray and freeze.