Calendula is sometimes referred to as pot marigold, but it is not be confused with marigold flowers. Calendula is an herb that produces a flower, which may be dried and the petals used for culinary, cosmetic and medicinal purposes. Just as the herb calendula may be dried and stored for later use, so can other herbs. Drying herbs requires a cool, dry space that will allow for proper ventilation and airflow for the herbs during the drying process.
Collect the flower heads of calendula just after the flowers have opened. Clip the flowers from the stem, leaving approximately 1/2 inch of stem for ease of handling of the flower head.
Gently rinse the flower heads in cool water and set them out on a clean towel. Allow the flower heads to air dry, keeping them out of direct sunlight.
Place the flower heads on screens so they do not touch each other. Provide support under each corner of each screen to create even airflow. One solution for this is to frame each screen with wood and add feet to the frame. This let the screens lie flat while still allowing for proper airflow.
Place the screens in a dark, warm place that also receives sufficient airflow, such as a closet with a vent or small room.
Turn the heads daily. When the petals of the flower head feel papery or crisp, they are ready to be harvested and stored.
Pull each petal gently away from the flower head and place them on wax paper or parchment paper. Place them into an airtight container. Dried calendula petals may keep for up to one full year.
Use clippers to collect sprigs or clippings from the herb plants.
Fill your sink with cool water and rinse all the herbs, keeping the different herbs separate as you lay them out on clean towels. Allow the herbs to air dry, turning them occasionally to ensure even drying.
Tie the herbs into small bundles, keeping each type of herb separate since they dry at varying rates. Knot the string around the bundle approximately 1 inch down from the cut end of the stems of the herbs. The leaves then should be facing downward.
Place the bundles into paper bags, with the cut end of the bundles upward. Do not overcrowd the bags. Leave the bags open to allow for proper ventilation. Check the bags every two to three days. When the leaves feel dried out and papery, they are ready for storage.
Remove the dried bundle and hold it over a large bowl. Cut the string. Carefully remove the leaves from the stems, allowing them to fall into the bowl. Pour the leaves into an airtight container and store for up to six months.
About this Author
Shelly McRae resides in Phoenix, Ariz. Having earned her associate's degree from Glendale Community College with a major in graphic design and technical writing, she turned to online writing. Her credits include articles for 123Life.com, eHow.com and several non-commercial sites. Her work background also includes experience in the home improvement industry and hydroponic gardening.