Summer Really Can Last Forever If You Dry Your Fresh Herbs
The secret to better autumn and winter meals.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:53 AM
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The harvest is in full swing, which means shorter days, chillier nights, and diminishing quantities of fresh green things at the farmers market. As winter starts to approach, your own garden will also start to ease into its seasonal slumber. But that doesn’t mean you have to bid farewell to the fruits (or, more accurately, herbs) of your labor: You just have to dry them.
Sure, you can pick up jars of dried herbs at the grocery store, but a DIY approach guarantees optimal freshness and flavor. Plus, they’ll give your kitchen an instantly witchy vibe—what could be more perfect for October? We asked chef (and Instagram sensation) Sophia Roe how she dries her own greens, and how you can do it, too.
Roe’s strategy is pretty simple: Cut sprigs close to the root and remove any dead leaves, then wash the herbs and make sure they are completely dry (wet herbs will mold). Next, assemble small bundles of six to eight sprigs each—this ensures air can properly circulate around them—and tie them with cotton string or twine. Hang the bunches upside down in a clean place with no direct sunlight, and check every week until they’re dry. You know they’re ready when the leaves crumble easily between your fingers. Just don’t wait too long; if they turn into something more like a powder, they’re too dry.
Her favorite flavors
Though you can dry pretty much any herb your heart desires, from parsley to oregano, Roe especially loves dill and vanilla. “I love how dill becomes more intensified when dry, and vanilla I could go on and on about—it’s this wildly gorgeous green color when it’s fresh, and as it dried it sweetens, becomes even more fragrant, and turns that gorgeous milky brown color we all identify with it.”
Her storage method
Roe keeps drying herbs pinned to a board with small nails, but you can also make a pretty hanging rack, like the one above by The Well Essentials. Or, if you want to simplify things even further, a few Command hooks in a dry, dark cabinet or corner should do the trick. Once they’re fully dry, crumble your herbs and stow them in labeled glass containers. According to Roe, they should last about 10 months, but if they’re discolored or less aromatic than usual, it’s time to discard them in the compost pile. “Once dried herbs expire, they lose their potency and flavor anyway,” she says.
Sprinkle your homemade seasonings on all of your future dishes and prepare for dinner guests to ask what exactly your secret is.
See more herb ideas: 3 Underrated Herbs That Will Make All Your Fall Dishes Taste Better Plant These 5 Easy-to-Grow Herbs Now for Fresh Flavor Year-Round Can Chinese Herbs Make You Fall Asleep Faster?