How To Quickly and Easily Dry Your Own Herbs

The product of way too much time on my hands one Sunday afternoon left me pondering the various spices and oils populating my mother’s cupboard. I saw rows and rows of dried herbs and spices. I was reminded of a family friend’s herb garden and wondered how I would go about drying my own herbs. Here’s how I did it.

After searching the web for so long that I can now say with absolute certainty that botany is not for me, I came across various sites that claimed the only tool I needed to fast dry my handful of thyme was a microwave. Seriously? My mother spends how much on these countless jars of spice when she could grow her own and use fresh and dried herbs for a fraction of the cost? Now that’s something I have to look into!

Sure enough, all it took was one paper plate, two paper towels, fresh herbs and one minute in the microwave. The sweet fragrance of thyme, which already filled the air as a fresh herb, began to saturate the entire room when I opened the microwave. It was lovely.

The herbs did not look much different from their fresh cousins, but they were at the perfect flaky stage of dried in no time. I also liked how they retained a signature deep green hue instead of turning a dull brownish green shade like most store-bought dried herbs.

They looked and smelled incredible. I couldn’t believe that I had never tried drying my own herbs before. I started sprinkling the leaves in every course of the dinner my mother was cooking: eggplant pasta marinara, fresh green salad with homemade dressing and even on the garlic bread. The aroma was heavenly and the taste was subtly stronger in each of the dishes.

Microwaving herbs to dry them is a wonderful idea in small quantities: however, for larger bunches a more traditional overnight oven-drying method will work best. When drying in a microwave you need the leaves to be spread out in one layer between your two pieces of toweling. There are only so many thyme leaves you can fit on one plate inside a small microwave.

To store your freshly dried herbs, pour them into an airtight container away from sunlight much like you would do with the store-bought variety. They should remain fresh and flavorful as long as that sweet aroma is still intact. Once that is gone it is time to pluck a few more sprigs fresh from your garden (shh I won’t tell if they are store-bought either) and put your microwave to work once again!


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