parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme

June 7th, 2006

I often bring home bags of beautiful, fresh herbs which I fully intend to use in dishes I imagine I’ll cook throughout the week. Who can say no to a crisp, bright green bunch of Italian parsley, or fragrant fresh oregano, or thyme? Sadly, the herbs often look better in my imaginary meals than they do in real life. A week later I wind up with a refrigerator plagued by bags of soggy, gray specimens for the compost pile. Surely, fresh herbs are destined for a tastier fate.

Rather than waste away in the refrigerator, I recently started drying unused herbs at home. It’s very simple to do, and I wonder why I hadn’t thought of it before. All you need is a sunny spot outside, or on the window sill, and some kitchen twine. Suspend the bouquet of herbs using the twine–make sure it’s high enough to be out of pet’s reach–and wait for the sun to do its work. In a day or two you should have a bunch of fragrant, dry herbs. Store them in a tightly covered, labeled jar for future use.

Dry herbs add a lot of flavor to slow-cooked foods, when added at the beginning of cooking. Drying your own herbs means less waste, and less money spent on commercially dried herbs. And eliminating the bags of weird gray stuff in the fridge is a nice perk too.

Home dried herbs

1 bunch fresh herbs
kitchen twine
sunny spot

  • Pick over the herbs and remove any blackened leaves and stems.
  • Cut some kitchen twine, say 6-10 inches for wrapping and more for hanging, depending on where you want to hang it.
  • Tie the twine around the stems, wrap it around the bouquet several times and tie again.
  • Suspend in a sunny spot for a day or two, or until dry.
  • Check for any bugs, then cut off the twine and pick off the leaves, storing them in a jar. If you’re drying thyme, just store the tiny little leaves along with the stalks.

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