BY TEAM AVA
FEBRUARY 24, 2022
Have you ever wanted to dry your own flowers, and they turned out a little moldy instead? Well, here are our favourite tips and tricks to dry your own flowers and herbs while keeping their freshness and colour.
Why Dry Herbs and Flowers from Your Garden
Dried flowers and herbs can continue to spread fragrance and colour in your life. At AVA, we have flower pod packs that include calendula, lavender, and marigolds - drying them means that you can use these unique, fragrant, and beautiful flowers all year round! The benefits of drying your own flowers and herbs include:
- Low Maintenance and Easy to Store:
- Once dried properly, flowers preserve most of their colour and fragrance.
- All they need is to remain dry and fresh in an airtight container.
- Longer Lasting:
- Where fresh herbs keep at most 1 - 2 weeks in the fridge, dried herbs can last up to 5 years.
- Where fresh cut flowers keep at most 1 - 2 weeks in water, dried flowers can last up to 1 year.
- No Chemical Preservatives or Pesticides:
- If you grow and dry your own, you know exactly what the inputs were.
- AVA’s flower pod packs are all pesticide-free.
- Different Use Cases:
- Dried herbs and flowers can be used for different purposes in cooking, DIY, and even medicine!
- Try flowers and herbs in a bundle for decoration or even a gift.
What Flowers and Herbs are Best for Drying
The rule of thumb is that the more cellulose (sturdier stems) the flowers and herbs have, the easier it will be to dry while holding its shape. Following this rule, roses are easier to dry, but tulips might be more difficult.
- Orange Nasturtium
- Red Nasturtium
- Holy basil
- Lemon Basil
- Flat-Leaf Parsley
- Fennel Leaf
Try some other flowers: chrysanthemum, hibiscus, chamomile, hydrangea, roses, strawflowers.
How to Select, Harvest, and Prepare Fresh Flowers and Herbs for Drying
Most flowers and herbs can be dried. Once your flowers have just blossomed, it’s time to enjoy them! Don’t wait too long, or the flower petals will start to fall off and may continue to drop petals as they first dry.
If you’re drying herbs, for herbs like thyme - cut above a growth node so that the live plant will continue to grow. For cilantro or coriander, harvesting once a week actually prevents bolting. For chives, you can enjoy flowers and leaves. For mint and basil, if you harvest before they flower, the herbs are sweeter - if they flower, they can be very beautiful but can be more bitter like licorice. For parsley, when your leaves have three leaf segments, you can harvest by the stem.
If you’re picking individual flowers for the air drying technique, clip the flower crown and its petals off of the stem. If you’re drying a bouquet of flowers or herbs, leave a lot of stem (especially where no leaves are growing at the bottom), so that there is enough room for the stems to be clipped upside down for the bouquet technique.
After harvesting, remove any loose or unshapely petals that you do not want to be dried. Leaves can retain a lot of moisture, making flowers harder to dry. If your flower buds come with large leaves, like sunflowers, you may want to remove the larger leaves before you dry.
How to Dry Flowers From Your Garden and Keep Their Color (Air Dry)
While there are other techniques using food dehydrators, ovens, microwaves, and silica gel, our favourite is the low effort air dry method.
Simply grab a plate or tray, line with paper towel or cheesecloth, and lay individual flower buds across while avoiding any overlap (this prevents mold growth). Dried flowers w
ill naturally fade over time, especially if exposed to direct sunlight, so it’s best to leave them to dry in a dark, warm, well-ventilated place like a kitchen cabinet or a cool oven overnight. They should dry within a day or two.
When they are dry, reuse your containers and glass mason jars to store your flowers and herbs!
How to Dry a Bouquet of Flowers or Bunch of Herbs
Take your stems and flip them upside down. Use a clip, elastic band, or unflavored dental floss to secure the ends of the stems to a hanger, and hang them upside down in a dark, dry, well-ventilated area. The drying process can take up to 2 - 3 weeks. You’ll know they are dry when the leaves and flowers are “crispy” - as in when you touch them, they crisp in your hands.
For herbs, you can rub the stems between your hands over a paper towel to crumple up the herbs into small bits, and save them in an airtight container for cooking.
For flower bouquets, you can keep them as decor by spraying them with unscented hairspray. Once the bundles are dry, you can wrap them in newspaper or parchment paper immediately to protect them from dust, damage, and sunlight exposure. You can lay them flat down in a box and store for later.
What to Do With Dried Flowers and Herbs
- Make your own soaps
- Make your own lotions and essential oils
- Make your own bath “tea” for soaking
- Make your own potpourri
- Make a cup of tea to drink (subscribe to our blog and get our 3 favorite tea recipes next month)
- Add to your jam
- Freeze in ice cubes for your drinks
- Use in everyday cooking and baking
Fresh Herb to Dry Herb Conversion Ratios
Fresh herbs and flowers are 80% to 90% water. When they are dried, the water evaporates and the flavours are more concentrated and could be more intense. So, a good general rule of thumb is…
1 TABLESPOON (3 TEASPOONS) FRESH HERBS = 1 TEASPOON DRIED HERBS
1 tbsp of fresh thyme = 1 tsp of dried thyme
- 1 tsp of fresh thyme = ½ to ¼ tsp of dried thyme
- 1 tsp of dried thyme = ½ tsp of ground dried thyme
Use this Fresh to Dry Ingredient Conversion Chart for reference, and pin it to your board Pinterest for later:
Learn more about us, to discover why you should get growing with a smart indoor garden, how it helps save you money in an urban city, and makes your life better. Looking to start an indoor garden or bring up your productivity during WFH trying to find more ways to get sustainable at home and in the kitchen take a read of our blog.