What is the best way to dry herbs?

Question: 

What is the best way to dry herbs?

Answer: 

Herbs should be harvested in the early morning, after the dew has evaporated and before the sun becomes too hot.  After harvesting, rinse the herbs in cool water.  Shake off excess water and place them on paper toweling to dry for a few minutes. 

Air Drying

Air drying is the most popular method used to dry herbs.  To dry whole branches or stems, gather 8 to 12 stems in a bunch.  Tie the ends of the stems together and hang each bunch upside down in a warm (70 to 80 degree Fahrenheit), dry area.  Don't dry the herbs in direct sunlight.  The herbs should be dry in 2 to 4 weeks.  When thoroughly dry, strip the leaves from the plants.  Crush or crumble the leaves and store in airtight jars in a cool, dry place. 

Drying Trays

Another way to air dry herbs is to place them on a drying tray.  A simple drying tray consists of fine mesh screen or cheesecloth attached to a wooden frame.  A window screen also works well. Place blocks under the corners of the drying tray to insure good air circulation.  Place a single layer of leaves or branches on the drying surface and keep the herbs in a warm, dry area until they are thoroughly dry. 

Using the Oven

A gas or electric oven can also be used to dry herbs.  To oven dry, spread a layer of leaves or stems on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan.  Place the herbs in a warm (up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit) oven for 3 to 4 hours.  Leave the door open and stir the herbs periodically until they are thoroughly dry. 

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