How to make herb drying racks for CHEAP!
If you grow your own herbs, listen up! In order to store them, you’re going to need to dry them first. If you want a DIY on how to make a CHEAP and EASY herb drying rack, this is the post for you!
The herbal revolution.
In the last few years, the medicinal benefits of herbs have gained attention in the wider population and a whole industry has flourished because of it. Herbs and other natural products(Google the medicinal benefits of honey, or apple cider vinegar, for example) can do amazing things for your health. A lot of people are realizing that the pill popping regime we’ve been fed for the past few decades isn’t the way we modern folk want to explore home remedies.
Up until now, I’ve been on the side-lines of the whole herbal movement. Intrigued, I’ve checked out different methods of purchasing and consumption to acquire the medicinal benefits.
There are online companies you can purchase from(expensive) and herbal oil pyramid parties(expensive) and diffusers, pill form, tinctures, and… ugh. It was all so frustratingly expensive! I just couldn’t justify the start up expense, let alone the maintenance costs!
Ever the DIY-er, I felt that being able to partake in the benefits of herbs had to have a ‘make yourself’ option! The fact that I am a huge garden nerd cemented the urge that I had to try growing my own medicinal herbs in my own garden!
I want my garden to be my pharmacy.
Last winter, I spent researching all the ‘medicines’ that grow in my zone and I ordered a bunch of seeds and started those bad boys in February. I finally had success growing seedlings (look for an upcoming post on how to successfully start seeds without grow lights), and transplanted them, into my newly designed herb garden and months later, I am rewarded with, literally, an herbal jungle.
The thing is, with a lot of herbs, in order to preserve them and sometimes even to use them, you have to dry them first! So when my yard sprang to life with calendula and chamomile, I was caught a little off guard by the speed at which they grew as well as the abundance of blooms(the more you pick, the more they bloom!)! I was woefully unprepared for the drying process!
If you are going to grow an abundance of herbs, you’re going to need a herb drying rack, perhaps even several.
I had done a bunch of research on the herb dryers available for purchase online, and had read every Pinterest DIY out there, but not ONE fit my parameters: it had to be CHEAP, it had to hang, and it had to be kid/spill proof. The closest I found were these off Amazon for $32:
(affiliate link- see here for disclosure)
And if you’ve got the money for it, I would highly recommend it! It takes up very little vertical space, has multiple compartments for different herbs; it has complete 360 air flow, yet is protected from dust, and is spill/kid proof!
I wanted to buy 8 of them! Excuse me while I math here for a second, but I’m pretty sure that comes to over $250!!!! Being on one income, I’m all like: “Aint nobody got money for that!”
But how could I DIY it for cheap? I could bend a bunch of wire, and then find some netting and sew. and sew. and sew….. that seemed like too much work. blarg.
Until one fateful day, I saw these at the dollar store:
Pop-up netting from heaven!
I quickly snatched up 4 and went home and made this for $6. Because the package came with 2 different sized covers, I also have a slightly smaller size, also $6:
Read on to see how I created this inexpensive solar drying rack!
When I first saw the packaging in the store for the food covers, I thought that they were actually herb dryers! When I realized what they were, I thought, with a bit of sewing and some well-positioned openings, these would solve all my drying needs.
6 easy steps to your own CHEAP solar herb dryer:
Written instructions, followed by infographic:
Buy cheap pop-up food covers. I bought mine from the dollar store for $3 a package which included 2 covers. If you can’t find any there, here is almost the exact same product on Amazon($9 for 3):
- Using a seam ripper, remove pull tabs from top of covers. Make sure you don’t rip the netting. Set aside tabs and rings.
Stack one cover on top of another. Line up the seams so that they connect down the same side. Using strong thread and an upholstery needle, sew around the wires of each cover for the entire circumference. (see infographic for photo)
When you’re done sewing the stack, the food cover on the bottom of the herb dryer won’t be closed in, so you’ll need to cut a large circle out of tulle or fine netting that is a few inches bigger than the diameter of the food cover. Sew tulle on, covering the entire bottom, and cut off excess.
Turn upside down. The tulle you just sewed on, will now be the top of the herb dryer. Gather the tabs and rings you previously set aside. Fold tab, through the ring and sew the tab onto the top edge(around the wire) of the herb dryer, around the circumference at even intervals. (see infographic for picture) This ensures that the dryer can handle the weight of herbs you are drying.
Cut parallel slits in each compartment along one side of the dryer, big enough for your hand to fit in.
Gather herbs and lay evenly across each level, making sure the herbs aren’t piled on top of each other. Hang in a covered location out of direct sun and moisture. Allow a few weeks to completely dry. You know your herbs are dry if they are crisp or crumbly to the touch.
To clean herb dryer, empty and store dried herbs. Use dark containers with a seal to prevent light and lock in freshness. With the openings of the herb dryer facing down, pump the herb dryer like an accordion, shaking at the same time. Dried bits of herbs will fall out of the openings. If needed, vacuum with a narrow attachment.
To store, squeeze the herb dryer flat and use the elastic strings that are already attached, to wrap around and contain flattened herb dryer.
Finally, I have dried herbs and I didn’t have to sell a kidney to do it! I have so much chamomile and calendula(pot marigold), way more than I expected! The kids are so excited to harvest and earn some spending money! I am ecstatic with the bounty, and now I actually have a way to dry it all! I’m still contemplating exactly how to use it, but I think I have some soap and lotion making in my future!
Next up in the drying rack will be, mint, oregano, dill, cilantro, anise hyssop, and hopefully even lavender! I can’t wait!
Do you have any herb hacks? Comment! I would love to hear from you!