Although our herb garden is not very big, I do manage to grow and preserve most of the herbs we use for the year. This year I dried and/or ground 17 herbs or spices and froze 3. Some herbs can be easily dried, while others take a little more time and patience. It's best to do when the herbs are at their peak in the season. But, I usually get busy with other things and am trying to finish up late in the season.
The easiest herbs to dry are Oregano, Thyme, Marjoram, Winter Savory & Summer Savory. Although Tarragon is usually easy to dry, I have had it turn brown for no apparent reason. Follow these 4 simple steps for "the easy" herbs and you will have dried herbs for the year.
Method 1 (The Easy Hanging Method) - Oregano, Thyme, Marjoram, Winter & Summer Savory, Tarragon, Corriander
1. Cut nice healthy herbs
2. Tie in bunches and hang out of direct sunlight until they are dry
3. Remove herbs from stems
4. Store in jar out of light.
Note: I also use a hanging method for Corriander. The only difference is that the corriander has started to dry before I bring it in. The whole plant is pulled out and hung in the basement. I either put a large bag around it or something under it in case the seeds start to drop off.
The two herbs that I have always had a hard time drying are Parsley & Basil. No matter what I did they never stayed a nice green color. This year, I dried them in the oven on low heat and convection setting. They both turned out a nice beautiful green. These steps are easy as well, they do require some attention though.
Method 2 (The Oven Method) - Parsley, Basil & Chives
1. Cut nice healthy herbs.
2. Place the leaves on a baking sheet ( I cut the chives in to 1" pieces)
3. Put them in the oven on low (150-200) convection setting or bake. I check them every 10 minutes and remove them when dry. This may take 20-45 minutes. But, be sure to check them every 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and cool
5. I crinkle them between my hands on to a paper towel then store in a jar out of light.
3. Take small lunch size brown paper bags and cut holes in them for ventilation. You can use a paper punch and make some nice designs or just use scissors.
4. Then hang the bunches inside the paper bags, tie the top and sit on a shelf out of direct sunlight until they dry.
5. Remove herbs from stems
6. Store in jar out of light.
Note: This method can be used for basically any herb you want to dry. In the past, I have used this method for most of the herbs. I would put them on the shelves in "The Italian's" office and leave them there until I had the time to remove them from their stems. I had read somewhere, years ago, that this is a nice way to give dried herbs away as a gift.
Method 4 (Pressed Method)
The only herb that I use this method for is Bay Leaf. You just place the leaf between two pieces of waxed or parchment paper, place it in a book or under a book and wait until it is dry, then store.