How To Store Your Medicinal Dried Herbs Collection

Herbs are one of my favorite things to grow, for cooking and for alleviating ailments. Many of them are perennials, so once you get herbs established you don’t have to worry about planting them year after year.

And many herbs do quite well in partial shade, and are a great way to use those areas around your home which don’t get enough sunlight for sun-loving plants.

upcycled containers with spices: cinnamon, thyme, hibiscus, basil, and rosemary

Dried herbs are a great way to add flavor to your food, and they can also be used as natural remedies for various illnesses. If you’re like me and you like to have a variety of dried herbs on hand, then you’ll need to find a good storage solution.

In this post, I’ll share some tips on how to store your dried herb collection so that it’s easy to find and access when you need it.

How to Dry Your Herbs for Storage

Fresh herbs add flavor and dimension to any dish, but they can be tricky to store. If not properly dried, they will quickly spoil. Here is a simple guide for how to dry your herbs for storage.

Drying in the Oven

Oven-drying is the quickest method, but it can cause the herbs to lose some of their flavor and color.

To oven-dry, simply rinse the herbs and pat them dry. Then, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them in a preheated oven set to the lowest possible temperature.

Check on the herbs every 30 minutes or so, and remove them from the oven when they are completely dry. Store the dried herbs in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

Air Drying

Air-drying is a slower process, but it preserves more of the herb’s flavor and color. To air-dry, start by tying bunches of herbs together with string and hanging them upside down in a cool, dark, and dry place. You can tie them with rubber bands or with twine.

hanging herbs to dry
hanging herbs to dry

Check on the bundle of herbs after a week or two, and remove them when they are completely dry. Store the dried herbs in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

Microwave Drying

Microwaving is a popular way to dry herbs, but it does have some pros and cons.

On the plus side, microwaving is quick and easy, and it doesn’t require any special equipment. simply place your herbs on a plate and put them in the microwave for a few minutes.

On the downside, microwaving can cause your herbs to lose some of their flavor and aroma. In addition, if you’re not careful, you can easily overcook them, making them crispy and unusable.

If you decide to try microwaving, be sure to experiment with different times and power levels to find the perfect balance of dried herbs.

Sun Drying

Sun drying is a popular method for preserving herbs. It is simple and effective, and it allows the herbs to retain their flavor and color. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when sun drying herbs.

First, make sure that the herbs are completely dry before storing them. If they are even slightly damp, they will mold and spoil. Second, be sure to store the herbs in an airtight container.

This will protect them from moisture and pests. Finally, keep the herbs out of direct sunlight, as this can cause them to lose their flavor.

Using a Dehydrator

Dehydrators are a handy kitchen appliance that can be used for a variety of tasks, including drying herbs. Herbs can be dried using different methods, but dehydrators offer a number of advantages.

For instance, dehydrators help to preserve the flavor and aroma of herbs better than other methods.

Additionally, they can be set to specific temperatures, which ensures that the herbs are dried evenly and completely. However, dehydrators can also be expensive, and they require electricity to operate.

Additionally, it is important to keep an eye on the herbs while they are drying, as overcooked herbs can lose their flavor. If you are considering using a dehydrator to dry your herbs, weigh the pros and cons carefully before making a decision.

Here’s What I Have So Far

My ultimate goal is to grow as many of the culinary and medicinal herbs that my family uses as possible. Until then I’ll be buying my herbs in bulk.

I’ve been slowly working on building my medicinal herb collection, to experiment with making different salves, tinctures, and ointments for my family. I want to try out a bunch of recipes to see what works best for us, so that I know which herbs I need to plant.

medicinal herbs closet
medicinal herbs closet

With these herbs I can make:

  • tinctures
  • poultices
  • salves
  • creams/ointments
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • face/body wash
  • herbal soaps
  • teas
  • tooth powder
  • and lots more!

I’m so anxious to try the many recipes I’ve found.

Most of what I have I bought specifically to combine in a recipe, not so much to use individually. I’ll be posting more as I experiment with different herbal combination.

Important: I am not a doctor. The following is for informational purposes only. Always do your research before you start taking any herbs, as side effects and pharmaceutical drug interactions may occur.

Hawthorn Berries – Hawthorn berries are good against diarrhea, poor digestion, and bloating.

Rosehips – An excellent source of vitamin C. I make a tea with them to help keep us well, especially through the winter. A good ingredient to add to cough remedies.

Oregano Leaf – Antibacterial

mint and oregano growing in pots
mint and oregano growing in pots

Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory, good for the brain, can be used daily as a spice to flavor your foods.

Black Walnut Hull – Anti-fungal, antiseptic, astringent, and antiviral, strengthens and builds tooth enamel, contains natural fluoride.

“As a rich source of organic iodine, black walnut (the hulls in particular) also gained much popularity as nourishment for the thyroid, especially in the interior parts of the country where sea vegetables were hard to come by.”

Practical Herbalism

Echinacea Root – Antibiotic, immune stimulant, anti-allergenic, lymphatic tonic; can be especially useful for recurring kidney infections; good for common colds; reduces inflammation.

Catnip – Cools fevers, promotes sweating, helps relive congestion, has a calming effect. Makes a great tea to calm fussy babies or overactive children.

Licorice Root – Anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, tonic stimulant for adrenal cortex, lowers blood cholesterol, cooling, expectorant.

Mullein Leaf – Expectorant, sedative, heals wounds, astringent, anti-inflammatory. Can be used to alleviate feverish chills with hard coughs.

Gargle an infusion to reduce inflammation causing a sore throat. Use a salve to alleviate wounds, hemorrhoids, eczema, or inflamed eyelids. Has been used against whooping cough, tuberculosis, asthma, and bronchitis.

Cat’s Claw Bark – Has been used against Lyme’s disease, and to clean out the kidneys.

Lemon Balm – Sedative, anti-depressant, digestive stimulant. Good for feverish colds. Makes a delicious tea. Calms upset stomach brought on by nervousness. The oils make a great insect repellant.

Chamomile Flowers – Delicious, relaxing tea. Relieves indigestion. Makes a great eyewash for pink-eye. Helps soothe eczema.

Arnica Flowers – Helps heal bruises and sprains.

Pau D’ Arco Bark

“The Incas and native tribes of South America use pau d’arco bark externally as a poultice or decoction for healing skin diseases including eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections, hemorrhoids […]”

Nutritional Herbology

Calendula (Pot Marigold) – Astringent, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, heals wounds, menstrual regulator, stimulates bile production.

Make a mouth wash for ulcers and gum disease. Suppositories help heal vaginal yeast infections. Drink a tea for menopausal problems, period pains, gastritis. Make a cream to alleviate dry skin, sore nipples from breastfeeding, scalds, sunburns, eczema.

Lavender Flowers – Relaxant, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, relieves nerves, antibacterial, antiseptic. Relieves stress and headaches, also good for colic and irritability. Add to cream for eczema. Helps sooth sunburns and scalds. Can also work against lice.

Comfrey – Heals wounds, expectorant. Helps heal fractured bones. Soothes osteoarthritis.

Horesetail / Shavegrass – Astringent, stops bleeding, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, tissue healer. Makes a good eyewash for conjunctivitis (pink eye).

Can be used to against nosebleeds and heavy menstruation. Can help control bed-wetting. Used to help heal damage from lung disease. It’s prescribed for stomach ulcers, urinary tract inflammations, and prostate disorders. A poultice can be made for wounds.

Yarrow Flower – Astringent, fresh leaves can be used for nosebleeds, used to help heal hay fever. Makes a good eczema wash. A compress can be made to alleviate varicose veins.

Some other great medicinal herbs to have around include:

  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Mint
  • Chives
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Fennel
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
thyme plants
thyme plants

You can buy these at the grocery store but I think it’s best to grow my own! Don’t forget that there are many spices with medicinal benefits, too, including cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and more.

Storing Bulk Dried Herbs To Maximize Shelf Life

When you grow your own herbs, you have the option of using them fresh or drying them for future use. Some herbs even become more potent after being dried, and are preferred in this state.

If you will be drying herbs, or buying dried herbs in bulk, there are a few things you need to keep in mind as you store them…

Keep Out Moisture

Before you put your herbs up on the shelf, you need to make sure they’re completely dry.

They should be brittle, and crumble between your fingers. If there is any moisture left in them, they will begin to mold in their container. They should be stored in a dry place, protected from humidity.

Keep Out Air

You’ll want to seal them in an air-tight container. A mason jar is perfect for storing herbs.

Keep Out Light

Exposing dried herbs to direct sunlight will cause them to deteriorate more rapidly. Store them somewhere away from a window, or keep them in a dark container.

Keep Out Heat

Herbs will last longer when stored in cooler temperatures.

Keep in a Drawer or Cupboard

When storing dried herbs, it is important to keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place. A drawer or cupboard away from the stove and sunlight is a perfect spot. Heat and light can cause the herbs to lose their flavor and potency.

Use a Curtain

When storing medicinal herbs, it is important to use a curtain. This will help to keep the herbs fresh and prevent them from drying out.

Place the herbs in a dark, cool place, such as a cupboard or pantry. If possible, place the herbs in a glass container with a lid that fits snugly.

This will help to protect the herbs from light and moisture. When using the herbs, be sure to label the container so that you can easily identify it. Store the herbs away from children and pets.

Try Amber Glass Jars with Airtight Lids

When it comes to storing medicinal herbs, amber glass jars with airtight lids are the best option. Amber glass protects herbs from exposure to light, which can degrade their potency over time. Airtight lids prevent oxygen from entering the jar, which can also cause degradation.

Furthermore, amber glass is non-reactive, so it won’t interact with the compounds in the herbs, preserving their therapeutic properties. When stored properly in amber glass jars with airtight lids, medicinal herbs can retain their potency for years.

Glass Mason Jars Work Well – As Does Tin

Glass Mason jars are a popular choice, as they provide an airtight seal that helps to keep herbs fresh for longer.

Another option is tin, which also offers a good level of protection against air and moisture. However, it is important to note that tin can react with certain herbs, so it is best to consult with an expert before using this method of storage.

Rotate Regularly

One of the most important things to do when storing herbs is to rotate them regularly. This means taking them out of storage, using them, and then replenishing the supply.

Not only does this ensure that the herbs are fresh, but it also allows you to check for signs of spoilage or infestation. In addition, regular rotation helps prevent the formation of mold or mildew, which can reduce the efficacy of the herbs.

Try Vacuum Sealing

When it comes to storing medicinal herbs, vacuum sealing is often the best option. Vacuum sealing helps to preserve the quality of the herbs by removing air and moisture from the equation.

In addition, it prevents the herbs from coming into contact with other materials that could damage them. When vacuum sealing herbs, be sure to use a food-grade sealant and store the sealed bags in a cool, dark place.

Paint the Jars

When storing medicinal herbs, it is important to take care in order to preserve their potency and freshness.

One way to do this is to paint the jars in which they are stored. This helps to protect the herbs from light, which can degrade their active compounds. In addition, it helps to keep the herbs dry by creating a barrier between the air and the herbs.

When painting the jars, be sure to use a non-toxic paint that will not come into contact with the herbs themselves. Once the paint is dry, you can store your herbs in the jars as usual.

Avoid Plastic Bags

When it comes to storing medicinal herbs, plastic bags are a big no-no. Not only do they wreak havoc on the environment, but they can also cause the herbs to lose their potency.

Herbs are best stored in airtight glass containers, away from light and heat. This will help to keep the herbs fresh and potent for longer.

Plastic bags should be avoided at all costs, as they can leach chemicals into the herbs and cause them to lose their efficacy. So, next time you’re stocking up on medicinal herbs, make sure to use glass containers instead of plastic bags. Your body will thank you for it!

Cover Jars With Large Opaque Labels

First, make sure to cover the jars with large opaque labels. This will protect the herbs from light exposure, which can cause them to lose their flavor and medicinal properties.

Whole Herbs Last Longer

If you can, store the herbs in whole form rather than cutting them up. Whole herbs will last longer than cut herbs because they retain more of their essential oils. In addition, storing herbs in a cool, dark place will help to preserve their active ingredients.

Label With Harvest Date

When storing medicinal herbs, it is important to label them with the date of harvest. This will ensure that you are using the freshest possible herbs, which can make a difference in efficacy.

Before Storing, Wash With Cold Water and Dry Properly

When you’ve finished harvesting your medicinal herbs for the season, it’s important to store them properly to ensure that they retain their potency.

First, wash the herbs with cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Then, gently pat them dry with a clean towel. Next, spread the herbs out on a clean surface and allow them to air dry completely. Once they’re dry, you can store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Don’t Keep Herbs Near the Stove

One of the worst places to keep dried herbs is near the stove. The heat from the stove will cause the herbs to lose their flavor and become more brittle.

Additionally, the fumes from cooking can also damage the herbs. If you must keep your dried herbs near the stove, be sure to store them in an airtight container and away from direct heat.

How to Store Different Parts of Herbs – Best Recommendations

If you’re an avid gardener, you know that there’s nothing quite like using herbs fresh from the plant. But sometimes you need to store them for later use. Here are some tips on how to store different parts of herbs so they stay fresh and flavorful.

Aerial Parts

Aerial parts include the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant. To store aerial parts, snip them from the plant and place them in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. You can also wrap them in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag before storing in the refrigerator.

Roots

Roots should be stored in a cool, dry place; a root cellar is ideal. If you don’t have a root cellar, you can store roots in a paper bag in the refrigerator.

Seeds

Seeds should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container.

Fruits

Fruits should be ripe when you harvest them; unripe fruits will not ripen after being picked. Store fruits in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator.

When to Replace Dried Herbs

Herbs are a great way to add flavor to your cooking without resorting to salt or processed seasonings. However, dried herbs can lose their potency over time.

As a general rule of thumb, dried herbs should be replaced every 6 months to 1 year. Here are a few ways to tell if your herbs have lost their flavor:

  • If the herbs are more than a year old, they are probably past their prime and should be replaced.
  • If the herbs have been stored in a warm, humid place, they may have spoiled and should be discarded.
  • If the herbs look dull or faded, they have probably lost their flavor and should be replaced.
  • If the herbs don’t smell as strong as they used to, they may have lost their flavor and should be replaced.

If you’re not sure whether or not your herbs are still good, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and replace them. That way, you’ll know for sure that your food will be properly seasoned.

How Long Will Dried Herbs Last?

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a lot of space to store your medicinal dried herbs collection. But with a little bit of creativity and some helpful tips, you can find a way to make room for your plants and keep them in good condition.

Consider using one or more of the ideas we shared above to create an herb storage area that is both functional and attractive. With a little effort, you can be sure that your medicinal herbs will stay fresh and ready to use when you need them.

Follow these basic guidelines, and your herbs will keep for several months to even a couple of years. Remember, the longer they sit the more they breakdown nutritionally, so the faster you can use them up the more you’ll get out of your herbs.

My herbs are stored in a cool, dark closet, away from any windows. A cool, dry basement would also be a great place to keep them. I look forward to growing more herbs, and buying less!

I’d love to know which herbs you grow, buy, or use on a regular basis! Tell me about your herb collection.

updated 08/05/2022

19 thoughts on “How To Store Your Medicinal Dried Herbs Collection”

  1. I just love your site !

    Consider growing chaste tree they are stunning and great for women. I’m attempting them from seed, as well as skullcap, catnip, lemon and lime balms, calendula, chamommile, and California and Flanders poppy this year.

    Another must have which I am surprised doesn’t grow here on the gulf coast, least in my yard, is nettles. I’m planting some (way in the back!)

    I am in luck with elder, I have a beautiful one on my property and just propagated many stems (we will see how that goes!)

    Although I keep a cabinet of herbs and tinctures this is my first medicinal garden. I moved to the rural coast from the city and now luckily have plenty of space.

    Reply
  2. Hi Kendra. I found your page when I was checking out Ajuga, which I had long forgotten about. I’m never without Prunella (self-heal or all-heal) myself. It has an incredible range of medicinal uses. Another herb I plant every year is Spilanthes, even though it’s native to South America and not here. Some of the medicinal mushrooms that I find here in West Tennessee are Ganoderma lucidum(Reishi, Ling Zhi), Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Turkey Tails (Coriolus versicolor), that I’ve used mostly for treating various cancers that I’ve been called on to treat. Also, Scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is good for all types of nerve pain. Here, Scullcap and the Ganoderma mushrooms are found in the low damp to wet places around the swamps and the banks of the Mississippi River..One last thing that I learned about several years ago and now grow every year is the Holy Basils/Tulsi. They too have a very broad range of medicinal uses to treat myriad conditions of ill health.

    Reply
  3. Hi Kendra,
    Great post; thank you so much for inspriring me to start growing my own herbs and much more! Do you have any instructions on how to dry your own herbs?
    Thank you!
    Meghan

    Reply
  4. Would you ever consider posting an herbal recipe every now and then, one that is fairly easy for us beginners? Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming looking for herbal recipes online- there are so many out there. I’d love to hear from someone that understands the mind of a newbie. I’ve thought of starting with something like a headache remedy, maybe in a tea form, that would be easy to make and use for myself, my husband, and our kiddos. Anyway, I’m rambling- maybe it’s the late hour. 🙂
    Thanks!

    Reply
  5. I have always been interested in using herbs but have been discouraged because of the difficulty of finding a source of complete information.
    Often books and publications tell you what herb is good for what but often omit how to make it and how to use it.
    Do you know of a good source?

    Reply
  6. Hi. Except for a few herbs your story is the same as mine. I live on the western slope of Colorado. With the help of a green house, I’m able to grow all year long. I look for new herbs to grow and how to use them. I’m 72 years old and in grate health mostly due to diet and life stile. To list all that I do would take much to long. Perhaps we could compair notes and techniques. I would welcome you to e mail me when you have time. I may start selling some of my herbs at a health food shop soon. Any advice? I have a few acres and also raise some small animals. I’m interested in using herbs on my animals. Any suggestions? Stay well.

    Reply
  7. Good morning Kendra 🙂
    I love what you have so far. You are the lovely lady who started me on this herbal journey a year ago when you made the garlic and coconut oil for coughs. I have become an herb freak. I have also planted Hyssop, a “stimulating expectorant with marked antiviral activity” and diuretic. Petasites (Butterbur) it’s a painrelieving antispasmodic. My favorite tea, that is so easy to grow and deliscios is Tulsi (Holy Basil). I drink it every day. The benefits of Tulsi are legion (I love it when they say that). My favorite book for ratios for tinctures, oils, syrups, etc, is Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech. He also happens to be the owner of Horizon Herbs, my favorite place to buy herb seed, root, plant or tree. it’s also a great source for heirloom veggie seeds. Last year I started about 40 different herbs and have about 15 more veriaties starting outside now because they have to go thru the winter before germination. Everything I’ve tried so far actually works!!! Gods pharmacy is amazing!!!! Thank you so Kendra much for getting me started on the amazing journey 🙂

    Reply
  8. hello!!!

    first of all thank you! thank you for the inspiration you give me on a regular basis and the encouragement to keep trying!

    I just Love reading the wonderful ways we can use nature… I am just wondering if there is a book or website you can direct me to that would show the ratios and ways to use these amazing plants in the most effective way.

    thank you so much for any information.

    blessings
    Mandy

    Reply
    • Hi Mandy! I love Rosemary Gladstar’s herbal books. She has a lot of really great information and recipes out there. I also love The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody. It doesn’t have recipes, but it lists different herbs and what they’re good for. The combination of both of these resources has done me well. I’m sure there are other great books out there. I’d love to hear what other people have!

      Reply

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