Tips for Drying and Freezing Herbs

“Time is an herb that cures all diseases.”
—Benjamin Franklin (1705-1790)

Grown, gathered and dried. Yesterday was for harvesting herbs from the garden. I do this every couple weeks throughout the summer. It’s a quiet, slow, fragrant task that I truly enjoy. 

Did you know that the time of day you harvest your herbs can greatly impact the amount of essential oils and medicinal properties in the plant? The best time to harvest your herbs is in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the sun has hit the aerial parts of the plant for too long. This is when the largest percentage of beneficial properties (flavor and fragrance and oils, for example) are in the plant. As the heat from the sun sets in, those properties slowly drain back into the stem and roots of the plant.  My favorite shears for harvesting can be found .

For this same reason, I prefer to keep my aerial plant parts (leaves and flowers) in their whole form as much as possible while drying and storing. Beneficial properties are released when they are broken or crushed, so I do that right before using them.

Regardless of how you choose to preserve your herbs, first wash them gently in cool water to remove any soil or insects. With a clean pair of shears (or your fingers) snip or tear off any leaves or parts of the plant that are blemished or have been nibbled. Then shake the plants to remove the majority of the water. Pat dry with a paper towel and let dry completely so no moisture is visible. Preserving herbs can be a peaceful, slow, fragrant task. 

If you have more herbs than you can use fresh, consider these methods for preserving them so they can be enjoyed year-round. Herbs that are dried or frozen can keep up to a year, however they may begin to lose their potency after six months.


Lay your herbs in a single layer on a mesh drying rack to dry or bundle a few sprigs together with jute twine (tied tightly) and hang. I usually do a combination of both. Dry in a warm, dry, airy location with good circulation. I keep a dehumidifier running near the drying rack to help remove moisture from the air near where the herbs are drying and to keep the air continuously circulating.  Alternatively, you can use a dehydrator to dry your herbs in a more expedited manner.

Make sure your herbs are completely dry before storing them in clean, airtight jars. If air drying, I typically check them at about the two-week mark and go from there. They should have a brittle texture and crumble easily. Some will be ready to jar, while others will need more time. Spreading them out so they aren’t touching speeds up the drying process a bit. 

Strip leaves and flowers from the main stem and store them in their whole form when possible to preserve potency. Beneficial properties are released when they are broken or crushed, so crush with a mortar and pestle (or with your hands) right before using them.

Label your jars with the variety of herb you’re storing and the date of harvest. Most herbs will maintain their flavor and potency for 12-18 months. If you notice that your herbs lack luster (no longer smell potent or the color is fading), use them to make botanical fire starters or simply compost them back into the earth. Store the jars in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight.


My Favorite Herbs To Dry

  • Basil
  • Bay
  • Bee Balm
  • Butterfly pea
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile
  • Echinacea
  • Eucalyptus
  • Feverfew
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Marigold
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rose
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Yarrow

Remember, you don’t need a large space to grow a beautiful and productive herb garden. A single raised bed or even a few pots can give you several months of beautiful fresh herbs!

herbalism, herbalist, herb drying, preserving herbs, herbs, harvesting herbs
herbalism, herbalist, herb drying, preserving herbs, herbs, harvesting herbsherbalism, herbalist, herb drying, preserving herbs, herbs, harvesting herbs
herbalism, herbalist, herb drying, preserving herbs, herbs, harvesting herbs


Freezing is often considered the best way to preserve herbs that have delicate flavors or textures, or that have tender leaves. Dill, chive, cilantro, and parsley are examples of herbs that preserve best when frozen, but all herbs can be preserved using this process. My favorite herb-freezing method uses an ice cube tray. Chop the herbs into small pieces and evenly distribute across the tray. Then pour water or organic extra virgin olive oil over the herbs. Carefully relocate to the freezer. Once the oil cubes are frozen, pop them out and store in a plastic bag in the freezer for up to a year to be used individually as needed. Herb and water cubes can be thawed and drained. Herb and oil cubes can be dropped straight onto your skillet.  This same freezing method can be used to portion out and preserve homemade pesto!

frozen herbs in oil or butter
Pictured: versatile herb blend of rosemary, sage, thyme in extra virgin olive oil.

Ready to take your herbal journey to the next level and expand your knowledge of how plants can nourish, soothe, and support? The Herbal Academy has a wide range of top-ranked herbal courses, workshops, resources, workbooks, journals, and so much more.

Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. Cedar House Living LLC receives a small commission for sales generated through these links at no additional cost to you. I use the commissions to further expand my garden, floral, and herbal knowledge so I can continue to share what I learn with you.

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