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Tip of the Week: Drying Herbs and Flowers

You can buy dried herbs and flowers, but if you dry your own they’ll have better scents and flavors and brighter colors. Here’s how to do it.
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You can find dried herbs and flowers in stores, but they will never be as good as the freshly dried botanicals you create in your own home. When you dry your own herbs and flowers, they’ll have brighter colors, they won’t be crushed from transporting and the aromas and flavors will be more intense.

Air-drying plants is one of the easiest methods of preserving leaves and blossoms. For the best results, harvest flowers just before full bloom. Cut them in the morning when the dew has dried and the flowers have opened. Avoid plants that are past their prime or have insect or disease damage.

1. Strip the leaves from the bottom of the stems where the bunch will be bound. This increases the strength of the stems and speeds up the drying time. Many leaves on flower stems become too brittle when dried, so leave just a few on the stem.

2. Gather a bunch of five to seven stems, making sure that the herb or flower heads have sufficient air circulation. Secure the stems with a rubber band one to two inches from the end. Hang your plants in a dark, dry room with good ventilation The darkness helps prevent the colors from fading. Your flowers are dry when the stems snap easily. Most flowers take up to three weeks to dry completely.

Read a list of recommended plants to dry