How to dry rosemary bright green

How to dry rosemary for intense flavor and bright green leaves

When the cold season comes, rosemary bushes in the garden shamelessly start to lose their intense flavor and fragrance. That’s because this wonderful evergreen herb becomes dormant in the winter. Well, almost. Since it is an evergreen, it must supply water to its leaves also in the winter to stay alive. This is why most rosemary plants usually aren’t hardy. And those that are don’t do well when the soil freezes too deeply. A deep freeze deprives them of the water their roots and leaves need. And because the plant only takes the minimum to stay alive, it is no wonder that the flavor is compromised. So how do you ensure a steady supply of bright green, flavorful and aromatic leaves throughout the winter? Well, you could (and should) dry rosemary leaves.

Drying is one the ways you can store rosemary to use in the winter months when it has little flavor and fragrance. For the rosemary leaves to keep their wonderful bright green color and their potent medicinal properties, you need to dry them fast. The faster the better. And away from light. Rosemary leaves turn brown when dried exposed to daylight.

How to harvest rosemary for drying

Wait for a warm and dry day, preferably a very sunny day. Ideally, you want to harvest when it hasn’t rained heavily (or at all) in at least a week. Rain washes off important compounds. Wait for the dew to dry out before harvesting. I harvest mine at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. For the highest amount of essential oils, harvest just before the rosemary blossoms.

Only harvest clean and healthy leaves. And don’t wash them! Rosemary contains essential oils which you will wash off if you wash the leaves. This is paramount if you want therapeutic grade dried rosemary.

How to dry rosemary

Method 1: Food dehydrator

This is my favorite method. It’s simple, not fussy and efficient.

  1. Remove each leaf off the steams.
  2. Pick the unhealthy ones and discard them.
  3. Arrange the clean, healthy and unwashed leaves on the dehydrator trays. Leave some space for ventilation.
  4. Place your machine in the darkest room you have and turn it on.

So that all the phytonutrients remain intact, make sure to set your dehydrator at a temperature not higher than 40 Celsius (104 F). I usually dry mine between 30 C (86 F) and 35 C (95 F). Dry the leaves for at least 24 hours. How fast they will dry depends on how humid your room is and how warm you’ve set your dehydrator. I live in northern Germany where it’s usually notoriously humid. So at 30 C, I need at least 36 hours to fully dry my lovely rosemary blades. The leaves are fully dried when they easily crumble between the fingers.

Method 2: Tray Air Drying

If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry rosemary on a flat surface in a dark, dry and well-ventilated room.

  1. Remove each leaf off the steams.
  2. Pick the unhealthy ones and discard them.
  3. Take a sheet of paper towel and place it on a tray or other flat surface
  4. Arrange the clean, healthy and unwashed leaves on the paper towel
  5. Place the tray in the driest, darkest and most well-ventilated room you have.
  6. Stir or turn the leaves every few days to make they are drying evenly.

How long it will take for the leaves to dry depends on how humid your place is. Where I leave it takes several weeks before the leaves are fully dried.
The leaves are full dried when they feel crisp to the touch and are easily crumbled.

Method 3: Microwave Oven Drying

Drying your rosemary in a microwave is an alternative to air drying or using a dehydrator. It’s a really fast and efficient method.

  1. Remove each leaf off the steams.
  2. Pick the unhealthy ones and discard them.
  3. Arrange the leaves flat on a microwave-safe plate lined with 2 sheets of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  4. Cover the dish with a second layer of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
  5. Microwave the leaves on HIGH for 1 minute.
  6. Remove the rosemary from the oven and check if they are dry and brittle. If not, microwave on HIGH for another 20 seconds. Rinse and repeat until the rosemary leaves are completely dry and brittle.
  7. Place herbs on a rack and let cool.
  8. Store in an air-tight container.
How to store your dried rosemary

For therapeutic grade dried rosemary, store the leaves whole in an air-tight container away from daylight. They will keep for about two years. To avoid mold, make sure the leaves are fully dried before storing them.

To use it in the kitchen, you can grind the rosemary into a powder and store in an air-tight container. They will last for years and years. If you don’t use them up, that is.

How to dry rosemary bright green


Do you dry your own rosemary? Let us know. You’re more than welcome to leave a comment below.


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