Air-Drying Herbs

Throughout the summer, stands at my farmers' market sell big bundles of herbs for crazy-low prices, like one or two dollars. I'm always awed by this summer abundance (dried and fresh herbs can get so expensive at the grocery store!). I never mind picking up way too many huge bunches, and I poach a few different types from my parents' abundant garden, too.

Many of these I use fresh, but let's be real - when have you ever bought and used a whole bundle of herbs before it goes bad? Since I typically cook for just one or two people, I use herbs in smaller quantities, and I hate feeling like I have to use up a larger amount quickly. After a few days of using sage or cilantro in everything, I start to get tired of the flavor.

Better, I think, to still buy big bunches of herbs but to dry the majority of them. I've already dried thyme and oregano this year, and even though I've never heard of dried chives (seriously, are these a thing?), I was left with a lot of extras and so I'm trying that out, too. This works particularly well with all kinds of cooking herbs (like the standard oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram), as well as herbs that make lovely teas (mint, lemon balm, lavender).

To dry them, I wash whatever herbs I have left, tie a rubber band around a small bundle, and hang them from a hook in my kitchen. You can also lay the herbs out on a big plate or cooking sheet, turning them with your hands every few days until they're dry. Herbs work best dried in a well-ventilated spot with low light. You can store them on their stems or remove the leaves once dry. Then, just pop them in spice bottles or glass jars and use them all year long.

Photograph of herbs drying from Amelia - she's one of my favorites, and her beautiful site gives me so much home inspiration.