Drying Your Garden Herbs

April 2011

This summer like most I had a very simple garden. Just enough to remind me that it was summer: tomatoes peppers eggplant parsley oregano and basil. The marinara sauce eggplant parmigiana and pesto inspired by the garden were delicious. As always there was a bumper crop of basil which is a great addition to pasta sandwiches and more. I made my pesto with walnuts this summer at the suggestion of a friend. It was fabulous. Basil organic raw walnuts garlic lots of olive oil...so simple so delicious.

Although there may be many options out there to learn how to dry herbs I thought I would share the old fashioned way I learned from watching my grandmother. The herbs are picked early in the day rinsed and toweled off. They are always dried in the oven on a cookie sheet then crumbled and stored in a jar with a label of the season. Arrange the herbs on a cookie sheet and place in a warm (up to 180 F) oven for 3 to 4 hours. Leave the oven door open a crack and periodically turn the basil stems and leaves until they are thoroughly dry.

It is so great over the fall and winter to use dried herbs from the summer garden. Herbs have wonderful medicinal qualities. Steeping oregano into a tea during the winter provides a good remedy for a scratchy throat. Oil of oregano available in drops or capsules is known for its broad spectrum antimicrobial features.