How to dry herbs. (Also, how to grow common sense . . .)

I have a confession. For years, I’ve grown different herbs. From lavender and various mints, to my favorite Italian seasonings like basil, oregano and thyme, there is nothing better than pulling a leaf, rubbing it between my fingers, and inhaling the beautiful and healing scents of the garden as I stroll around my yard.

But I’ve always grown more herbs than I can use. And at the end of the season, when they fade with the first frost, I stock up on the dried versions from the grocery store.

Because I have no idea how to dry herbs.

But my quest to take every ingredient I use as far back to the original form as possible included the dried herbs in my spice cabinet. I had no idea what the drying process entails, but it can’t be that complicated!

For sure. It’s not.

Before the weather turned cold, I cut the plants at the ground and placed them in reusable shopping bags on a high shelf in my pantry. I left them there for a few weeks while I researched various drying techniques.

Meanwhile, they dried. No help from me.

But then…ugh. How do I get the leaves from the stems and into storage? I considered my various choppers, grinders, blenders, and food processors and procrastinated for another week. This was going to be messy and complicated!

This weekend, I pulled them from their hiding place to force myself to finish. And while I ran around the kitchen preparing dinner, my daughter sat on her stool and started playing with the parsley. I told her that was fine, but to please “play” over a bowl. She began rubbing the leaves between her fingers. They crumbled away from the woody stems without effort. Within a few minutes, she had the stems removed, the pedals finely ground and a winter’s worth of flavor ready to be stored.

She didn’t google “how to dry herbs” or consult a farmer for technique. She just instinctively knew what to do. Because kids are a lot smarter than adults sometimes.

Gardening is beautiful in so many ways. And so are my kids.

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