Tip from the test garden

Sunset  – March 28, 2005

As summer approaches, herbs kick into high gear, producing lots of aromatic foliage. Harvest leaves for fresh use but preserve some for the kitchen. Here are two ways to air-dry your crop.

1. Hang them up. For large-leafed herbs such as basil, rosemary, and sage, snip off leafy stems, tie the cut ends together with twine, and hang the bundle upside down in a warm, dry place (away from direct sun) with good air circulation. The herbs should be dry and crisp after about two weeks. Strip leaves off stems and store the leaves in an airtight container.

2. Spread them out. For fine-leafed herbs such as oregano and thyme, remove foliage from stems and spread the leaves on a clean window screen set in a warm, dry, airy place away from direct sun. Stir them every few days; once they feel crisp, store in an airtight container.