So many of us have discovered what a wonderful thing an herb garden is. You can have one on a sunny, well-drained and fertile soil garden, on your kitchen windowsill, or on your deck or patio. Fortunately, herbs are easy to grow and even easier to pick and preserve. They do not like shade or wet soil, and the more you fertilize them, the weaker their flavor is. I am a good candidate for growing an herb garden since I am a terrible gardener! You should see the herbs on my patio—do they ever produce! All I do is pick them in the morning and use them throughout the day in my food preparations. When autumn arrives, I begin to dry my herbs for use throughout the winter.
Most herbs can be dried and stored for future use. The best herbs for drying are ones without high moisture content such as bay leaves, dill, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, savory, and thyme. Basil, mint, chives and tarragon should be dried with a dehydrator since they are full of moisture. There are several ways to dry fresh herbs. The easiest and most popular is air drying. For this method you do not need any special equipment either. Just pick your herbs and rinse off thoroughly and dry completely on a towel. Be sure to dry completely so your herbs do not produce mold. If any leaf has mold, discard. Remove the bottom leaves so that you can gather branches together and tie them together. I use a rubber band to tie mine. Be sure to tie them tightly because they shrink as they dry and the band will loosen. Poke a couple of holes in a brown bag and put the herbs upside down in the bag and tie the bag. Then find a warm, dry place to hang them upside down for a few weeks until they become crispy. That is it! How simple is that?
Once they are dried just put them in airtight jars and store away from sunlight. I store mine in my pantry so that I have them handy in the kitchen. Do not crush them prior to use. They will lose their flavor more quickly. It is best to crush them with your fingers so that their oils release their awesome flavor.
The flavor of dried herbs is so intense that you do not use as much in a recipe as you do when using fresh herbs. The following is a guideline on how much of your dried herbs to use in place of one tablespoon of fresh herbs: