How to Dry Herbs & Leaves for Cooking and Other Uses Without Using a Dehydrator


Hi, my name’s Lindsey and I’m here at the Urban Farm. And today I’m gonna share with you how we dry some of the produce around our farm in order to get the most out of a plant as possible.

So next to me, this is our curry tree and it has edible berries, which you can see are the black berries. But then another thing is the leaves. So you can use the curry leaves for seasoning and you can use them fresh, but it’s also a good idea to dry some. So you always have them, especially since when it gets a little bit colder, the leaves won’t be as fresh and green. So what we’re gonna do is just harvest some of these leaves. And I’m just gonna cut sections off of the plant like this and then we’re going to dry this and I’m gonna show you some of the other things that we dry as well.

So this is a bay leaf plant, and very similar to the curry leaf. You dry the bay leaves and you can use them for seasoning. So I’m just going to trim some of the longer stems of this. And we’re just looking for healthy green leaves. We don’t want anything that already looks a little dried. Definitely wanna make sure we’re not getting diseased leaves or anything with pests on it.

And then the last thing over here that we’re gonna harvest for drying is eucalyptus. So it is not edible, but dried eucalyptus is beautiful. We add it to some of the bath and body products we make. Always wanna try drying your plants when they’re in the prime, the best season for them. Again, we’re just gonna cut nice long stems that have pretty foliage and this is a good way to also keep our plants a little bit more contained and to stimulate new growth. And with that, let’s go to our drying rack so I can show you the next step in the process.

So the next step in our drying process is to hang everything that we just harvested upside down. So we’re using this structure that was from a shade. So normally it would have shade over it and go over one of our garden beds, but for right now, it’s making a great DIY, drying rack. So you can use anything. Um, it just has to have enough room. You, you just want airflow around everything you’re drying. You wanna do it in a nice open space. You don’t want anything to get damp once it’s started the drying process. So this rack is outside in a carport, so it has airflow, but it’s also protected from rain and from other elements.

These are some of the things that we have already harvested and dried. This is moringa, the leaves which we make into moringa powder. This is something new we’re gonna see this year. This is guava leaves, so leaves from our guava tree, which you can use to make into a tea. So we’re experimenting with this for the first time. So those dried really nicely. This is basil. So just another dried herb that we can keep to use for culinary purposes. This is holy basil, which makes holy basil tea. And then this is a mix of the bay leaf and the curry leaf, which we harvested just before. And we did this about a week ago. So it only takes a week when things are in the heat to dry out completely. So you just wanna make sure that to the touch, everything is crunchy. You wanna be able to crumble the leaf, You don’t want any extra moisture before you go to package and put the dried herbs away. So I’m gonna show you how we hang them. It’s really simple. I’d have just rubber banded everything that we used. And then I’m just using a zip tie, sneaking it in there, and just using that to hold this to our drying rack. So you can use little s hooks, really anything that works for you. And then just something to keep in mind, whenever you’re drying something, you’re always gonna have less volume. So right now this moringa is beautiful and it looks like a lot of produce, but when you dry it, everything is gonna be a lot smaller. So just keep that in mind when you’re drying things, you might not get as much out of it as you originally anticipated. So again, we just wanna make sure the rubber band is nice and tight because again, when these stems lose their moisture, they’re gonna be thinner. So we wanna make sure that everything is kept together and I’m just giving all of these a little bit of space and airflow and that’s basically all there is to it. So we just wait until these dry out. We don’t have them directly in the sun. You can put yours in the sun. We just like to keep ours in the carport because it’s a little bit safer, a little bit more hygienic. There’s no like birds or dust or anything that could contaminate what we’re drying.

These are some examples from the past of how we packaged it. So some of the leaves we just put into Ziploc bags, This is holy basil. So like this from a couple years ago and we’re gonna cycle out. So it’s important that when you do new drying, you kind of cycle out your old stuff. So we’re gonna compost this because it’s from a while ago. Um, but labeling everything is really important so you know what it’s from. And a lot of these leaves look pretty similar once you dry them. So just make sure you’re labeling things similar. This is Curry. So this is from a couple years ago too, so we’re gonna cycle that out. But we just package it in this and it stays good for a year or two. And then this is moringa powder. So we use our dried moringa and blend it into a powder and we store that in a jar. So you can do that too. Anything that’s airtight and will keep it dry and just, we wanna store these in dark dry places once we have them packaged.


As you can see, drying herbs and produce from your property can be really easy. You just hang them upside down, give them time, and then package them safely. And once you do that, you can enjoy your produce for a longer time. It has a long shelf life and you can use it to make a lot of delicious things. Or like our eucalyptus, use it in bath and body products. So think of creative ways and things that you can use from your property to incorporate drying into your gardening routine.

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