Growing your own herbs is cheap and easy. The seeds are inexpensive and the plants prolific. My oregano comes back year-after-year, but I replant parsley, chives, dill, mint and lots of basil.
All summer I snip-and-pinch to add extra special flavor to all our recipes. But typically by Fall I’m trying to figure out how to save all that wonderful flavor through the cold months.
I was told to mince the herb in a little water and freeze the puree into ice cubes. This is a lot of work, messy and kind of pain to store in the freezer.
I tried freezing without the mincing and dicing. The herbs had less flavor than store-bought dried. And again, I was fussing over all the mincing and dicing.
There are several methods for drying herbs from your garden. The most common is to hang them from their stems in bunches in a dark, dry place until they’re completely dry. However, this isn’t fool proof . Basements which are often damp don’t work well. Humidity will often cause the herbs to turn moldy before they dry all the way. You can also dry them in the oven or microwave, but in my experience I ended up with cooked or burnt more often than dried herbs.
I had a food dehydrator a long time ago that worked spiffy. However, the dehydrator is a huge space consumer. If I don’t use a pot, pan or tool at least 3-4 per year then it better not take up much cupboard space. So I gave mine away.
That’s why I love this idea for drying herbs, which I first saw on HGTV’s “Gardening by the Yard” quite a while ago. It’s simple, quick, and makes use of the searing heat of a car that’s parked in the sun.
Just spread out your herbs on wax paper or sheets of newspaper on the seats of your car. Keep the windows rolled up, and within a few hours, you will have perfectly dried herbs. You don’t have to worry about them burning. They won’t turn moldy on you. And your car will smell awesome.
My plan is to try this out in my son’s truck which too often smells like tobacco. He’s a great chef so he should appreciate it if he doesn’t end up sitting in my experiment.
If it works I may try it on the lavender and rosemary too.
Once they’re dry, store the herbs in an airtight container such as a Ziplock baggie or small jar.
One more tip: your car will smell like whichever herb you dry for a while. So if there’s an herb that has an aroma you’re not quite crazy about, you might not want to use this method for that particular herb. I, for one, don’t mind if my car smells like dill pickles, but others might!