By Bonnie L. Grant
Rosemary is an evergreen, hardy herb that is vigorous and fragrant. The needle-like foliage is full of aromatic oils that release in stews, soups and sauces. Drying rosemary can help capture that aroma and the flavor. Harvesting rosemary in summer for drying protects the essence of the plant and brings it conveniently to your spice rack.
Tips on how to dry rosemary must include a talk on timing. Most herbs are best just before flowering when the oils are at their peak. Cut the stems in the morning just after the dew dries and before the heat of the day is at its height. Use pruners when harvesting rosemary from mature plants with woody stems. Wash the stems before you begin drying rosemary.
How to Dry Fresh Rosemary
Fresh rosemary is easiest to use because the leaves are soft and pliable. It is easy to preserve the flavor of the herb but drying rosemary makes the leaves hard and woody. The process of how to dry rosemary can include grinding the dry needles into powder for use without the hard texture.
You can just leave a stem of rosemary on the counter and it will dry but to ensure safety and quality, a food dehydrator is useful. Dry the stems in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Pull off the leaves after they are dry and store rosemary whole or ground. Other methods of how to dry rosemary can be done by hanging on a clothes hanger or pulling off the leaves and letting them dry in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
A pretty and easy way of drying rosemary is to make tied bouquets. The herb is attractive with numerous leaves and a rich green color. When bundled and tied with a bright ribbon, the bouquet emits a fresh evergreen scent as it dries. Hang the bundles in a warm, dry area until the needles start to fall off. Then remove the leaves by rubbing the stem upwards over a bowl or bag.
How to Store Rosemary
Storing herbs properly is crucial to retaining their flavor and usefulness. Herbs like rosemary keep best in cool, dark locations. Store rosemary in a tightly sealed container to prevent moisture from entering and causing mold. Dried herbs keep many times longer than fresh but don’t last forever. It is best to clean out your unused herbs and spices twice per year to ensure they are at their best.