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Drying Fresh Herbs

With Summer here, garden herbs are kicking into high gear, producing lots of pleasing, aromatic foliage that is great for cooking and potpourris. Freshly harvested leaves are wonderful for cooking, but you might want to preserve some to use later in the year or to create sachets that will fill your home with wonderful scents.

There are two ways to air-dry your crop. The first is to hang it up. With large-leafed herbs such as basil, rosemary, and sage, snip off the leafy stems, then tie the cut ends together with string and hang the bundle upside down in a warm, dry place (out of direct sunlight) with good air circulation. The herbs should be dry and crisp in two to three weeks. You can then strip the leaves off the stems and store them in airtight container for later use. This method is also a great way to dry lavender.

The second way to dry herbs is to spread them out to dry. With fine-leafed herbs such as oregano and thyme, simply remove the foliage from stems and spread the leaves on a cookie sheet or piece of clean window screen and set in a warm, dry, airy place away from direct sun. Stir them up every few days to turn them over. Once the leaves feel crisp, you can store them in an airtight container for later use.