DIY Herb Drying Rack May 28, 2015 It’s so satisfying to see your garden grow and to be able to harvest your own veggies and herbs. Using homegrown, fresh ingredients in your family meals is such a treat. Herbs grow fairly quickly and abundantly- a lot of times much faster than we can use them. Watching them go to waste is upsetting, especially when preserving them is so simple, so we wanted to share with you another easy DIY that is both practical and pretty. Here’s what you’ll need: – An old wooden plank – Three (or more) drawer knobs – Drill – Jute twine – Two eye hooks – Fresh herbs – Look for fun and interesting drawer pulls. Antique stores, garage sales, and even online are all good places to start your search. – Cut and sand your plank; this one measures 15″. – Measure spacing between knobs and mark with a pencil. – Drill holes on your pencil mark(s). – Attach knobs to your plank. – Screw eye hooks into the top of the plank on both sides. – Thread jute twine through eye hooks and secure a knot. The best time to cut herbs for drying is just before they flower. This is when the leaves have the most oil, which is what gives herbs their fresh smell and flavor. Different varieties of herbs flower at different times of the season, so look for buds or newly opened flowers as your clue for harvesting. If your herbs have already flowered, they can still be harvested and dried. To prepare your herbs for drying, simply cut the herbs late morning or early evening, but not in the hot midday sun. Carefully wash each stem in a bowl of cool water and allow them to air dry on a cooling rack or strainer- you can help them along by gently blotting with a soft towel. After they’ve dried, carefully weave twine through the sturdiest bottom stems and the main stem. Also, remember to leave a good length of string at the end and tie a loop. Hang your herbs upside down in an area that is cool and dry. The kitchen is a perfect spot! Be sure to inspect your herbs periodically for any signs of mold or pests (i.e. spiders) and remove any leaves that show signs of either of these. If you are worried about pests getting to the herbs – particularly if you are drying them in the basement – you can wrap cheese cloth around them and secure it with extra twine. Once your herbs are dry (approx. 1-2 weeks), you can separate the leaves from the stems and place your dried herbs into old spice bottles, mason jars, or any empty container with a lid you have sitting around. Note that some herbs have a higher moisture content (like basil, lemon balm, mint, etc.) and could start to mold if they are not dried quickly enough. In those instances there are lots of alternative methods to drying, such as setting them on a cookie sheet in the oven at very low temps or hanging them close to a fireplace. Just be sure to do your research before settling on your chosen herbs, as they each have a personality of their own. The rule of thumb when cooking with dried herbs is to use about 1/4 or 1/2 less dried herbs than fresh in a recipe, and vice versa. Enjoy!