Harvesting, Drying & Storing
The best time to harvest herbs is after the dew has dried and before the hot sun hits the herbs expelling the herb oils.
Herbs should be harvested before it flowers and goes to seed, with a few exceptions.
Only harvest what you can handle for the day. Keep herbs fresh and in cold water to prevent wilting.
To wash or not to wash Herbs:
I wash! I don't mind a grain or two of soil but the thought of slime is a bit much. :)
Anyway, I fill my sink with water and add about 1/2 cup - to 1 cup of white vinegar. Swish my herbs around in the mixture and towel dry.
I tie the herbs and air dry for a while. When the herbs are dry enough to work with, I pull all the leaves from the stems.
Then, I either air dry my leaves on paper towel or on a paper lined wire colander and just stir my herbs everytime I go by.
You can also tie your herbs in a little bunches with rubber bands. Put bunches of herbs in paper bags and hang them to dry. The paper bags will catch any seeds and keep the dust out. Rubber bands will compensate for the shrinkage but string will work as well.
You can also microwave the herbs to dry. Microwaved herbs will retain their pretty colours but your herbs will be microwaved. I do the same as above when microwaving.
To dry in the microwave;
I line the microwave tray with paper towel and do them on high power for about two minutes until they are fully dry.
When my herbs are dry, I like to crush them and sift them through a fine mesh colander, because then they are easier to measure for cooking.
Store the herbs right away in containers so they won't re-absorb moisture and become musty.
Keep labelled and dated herbs in a cool dark cupboard.
Check the herbs from time for freshness by rubbing them between the palms of your hands. If there isn't any fragrance, it's time to throw your herbs out and get fresh stuff or wait until next spring.