Pick the herbs and remove any dead or withered leaves. Tie in small bunches by the stems and blanch in boiling water for a few seconds. Shake off any excess water and leave to dry, or pat dry on a tea towel or kitchen roll. Wrap loosely in muslin and hang up to dry in a warm place, such as over a cooker or in an airing cupboard.
The length of time the herbs will take to dry will vary according to the temperature and the draft. If considerable heat is radiating from the cooker, for example, and there is also a good draft, they may be dry in just a few hours. If left in the airing cupboard, where there is little draft, they may take 3-4 days. The drying process is complete when the main stems of the herbs crack, rather than bend, and the leaves are brittle.
Oven Drying Herbs
If using large-leaved herbs, such as mint or sage, strip the leaves from their stalks. Otherwise you can leave them in sprigs. Pick over the herbs for any dead or withered leaves and then blanch small numbers of leaves (tied in muslin) or sprigs of herbs in boiling water for 1 minute. Shake off the excess moisture and spread the leaves or sprigs on trays. Place in a cool oven, at a temperature between 45°C/110°F/Gas Mark 0 and 55°C/130°F/Gas Mark 0. The herbs should be dried until they are crisp. If the drying process is continuous, this takes about 1 hour (on a rack above the stove it will take 3-4 hours).
When dry crush the herbs with a rolling pin, discarding any stalks. If you want to reduce them to a fine powder, sieve them. Store in small airtight containers, well-filled to preserve the fragrance. If stored in glass bottles, protect them from the light to conserve the colour.
Microwave Drying Herbs:
This is a simple and easy process but you do need to pay careful attention over what you are doing. Lay two sheets of absorbent kitchen roll and then put a layer of herbs down, then another layer of paper towel. Use the microwave on high for 1minute then in bursts of 30 seconds, moving herbs around and checking dryness frequently. The whole process should take no longer than 3 minutes.