The Best Way to Dry Fresh Herbs
An abundance of aromatic fresh herbs is a blessing—until you run out of ways to use up all that mint, thyme, or basil before it goes bad. When stored properly in the refrigerator, fresh herbs will usually last about five days before they start to wilt or decay. So once you’ve made a batch of Thyme Simple Syrup or Summer Sauce, a few jars of dill pickles, or some Lemon-Rosemary Chicken, preserve the rest of your herbs to use in future recipes by drying them. (Freezing works well too!)
By removing the moisture from fresh herbs, you can store them in airtight containers and use them for months, just like dried herbs you can buy at the store. You don’t need any special ingredients or equipment to do this—just a sheet pan, some fresh herbs, and an oven or microwave. Read on to find out how to do it.
While you can dry any type of fresh herbs in a very low oven, some people prefer using the oven for woody (thyme, rosemary) herbs, rather than tender (basil, parsley) ones, which are more delicate. Preheat the oven to 180˚F. Separate the herb leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Place the leaves on a baking sheet so that they are not touching. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 ½ hours. When the leaves are cool, remove them from the pan, crumble them into small pieces if desired, and store in an airtight container.
How to dry herbs in the microwave
There are two upsides to drying herbs in the microwave instead of the oven: It’s much faster, and it can preserve more of the herbs’ color (and flavor, according to some). Separate the herb leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Cover a microwave-safe plate with a paper towel. Arrange the herb leaves on the paper towel so that they are not touching. Cover the leaves with a second paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds increments. After each increment, open the microwave and check the herbs to make sure that they are dry, but not burnt. Woody herbs will take longer to dry than tender herbs. When the leaves are dried and cool, remove them from the plate, crumble them into small pieces if desired, and store in an airtight container.