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 had a LOT of herbs leftover. And at the end of the season, they fade with the first frost, and I just go to the grocery and stock up on the dried versions.

Because I don’t know how to dry herbs.

But  I’m on a new quest to take every ingredient I use as far back to the original form as possible. So I decided to explore the various jars of herbs in my cabinet. I’m not sure 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.

They became dried all on their own. Who knew.

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.