Rosemary is a hardy herb used mainly in cooked savory dishes. It is popular in comforting home-cooked meals such as lamb roasts, stews, roasted vegetables, and garlic and herb bread.
This delicious herb lasts up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. If you have more rosemary than you can use, dehydrate the herbs and use them for up to 3 years.
Follow the guide below to find out everything you need to know about drying rosemary.
Types of Rosemary
Rosemary varieties are divided into 2 main categories. The plant grows as an upright shrub or as a ground cover. Within these categories, there are many different types of rosemary of which not all are used for cooking.
Scented rosemary, with its excellent flavor and soft leaves, is the most common type used for culinary purposes along with Blue Boy, Spice Islands, and White rosemary. The evergreen shrubs have needle-like leaves flowering in white, blue, pink, or purple blossoms.
Rosemary pairs well with most types of meat, pork, and poultry as well as roast vegetable dishes, stews, and soups.
Its flavor and hardiness make it a great herb for use in barbecue fare. The herb is also used to infuse herbal notes into butter, oil, and tea.
Can You Dry Rosemary?
Yes, rosemary is a great herb to use in dishes whether fresh or dried. A warm, dry climate provides the ideal drying conditions for the herb. If you live in a very humid area, it is best to use heat-drying methods such as the oven.
Humidity and moisture in the air can lead to mold forming before the herb has a chance to dry out completely.
Air-drying rosemary by hanging is the most time-consuming dehydration method and can take up to 2 weeks. This method is, however, the best way to preserve the flavor.
Once dehydrated and packed into air-tight containers, rosemary should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
How To Dry Rosemary
Regardless of the method you choose to dehydrate rosemary, it needs to be trimmed and cleaned first.
Step 1: Cut rosemary sprigs into similar lengths. Discard any yellow, brown, or moldy bits.
Step 2: Lightly rinse the leaves in cold water.
Step 3: Place the rosemary sprigs on a clean paper towel and pat them dry. All the excess moisture from washing should be dried before you start the dehydration process.
After drying the leaves with the paper towel, leave them to air dry further for a few minutes if needed. Decide whether you want to air-dry or oven-dry the leaves and follow the instructions below accordingly.
Method 1: Air-Dry by Hanging
Step 1: Form Bundles
Gather a few sprigs and tie them together at the base of the stem with an elastic or piece of string. Don’t tie more than 5 to 8 sprigs per bundle to allow even airflow and drying.
Step 2: Hang
Choose a place with good light and air circulation to hang the rosemary bundles. Avoid areas that are moist such as spaces near a stove. Avoid drying the herbs in direct sunlight as this may cause some flavor loss.
Pierce a paper bag with holes and cover the rosemary bundles with the bag. This will protect the bundles from dust but still allow sufficient airflow through. Do not use a plastic bag as this will not allow sufficient airflow and cause mold.
The drying process can take up to 2 weeks depending on the climate. When the rosemary leaves are brittle, dry, and easily fall off the stem when handled they are ready.
Step 3: Pack
Take the dried herb bundles down. Working over a bowl or plate, remove the leaves by running your fingertips down the stem. The leaves should break easily.
You can crush the rosemary into smaller pieces with a mortar and pestle if you wish. Smaller pieces are more palatable and release optimal flavor.
Step 4: Store
Store the dried rosemary in a jar or container with a lid and label it with the date and contents.
Note: When drying rosemary, it is important to make sure that it is completely dehydrated before packing the herbs. Mold will develop if moisture is present, even inside your packaging. If the leaves are still pliable and don’t break easily, they need more drying time.
Method 2: Oven-Drying
Step 1: Preheat Oven
Preheat the oven to its lowest heat setting around 110 °F (43 °C).
Step 2: Prepare Leaves
When using the oven, you can pick the leaves off the woody stems before starting. Place the cleaned rosemary leaves on a lined baking tray in a single layer. Do not overcrowd the tray.
Step 3: Bake
Place the tray of leaves inside the preheated oven. The rosemary will be dried out completely between 2 and 4 hours. The length of time required will depend on the climate as well as the oven type.
The leaves should break apart from each other easily and become brittle when they are completely dehydrated.
Step 4: Store
Let the dried rosemary cool for a few minutes. Crush them into smaller pieces if desired. Store the rosemary in resealable plastic bags, spice bottles, or containers. Label with the date and contents.
Tip: Use a food dehydrator instead of the oven. It will take 6 to 8 hours to dehydrate fully on a low setting.
The ideal climate for drying herbs is a dry, warm area. It should be light and have good air ventilation, however, be out of direct sunlight.
Always make sure the leaves are completely dehydrated before packing to ensure their longevity. Dried rosemary will serve you well in summer barbecues and cozy winter foods bringing a great taste of comfort to the table.
*image by Brill/depositphotos