Fresh or whole dried herbs have greater flavor because they tend to lose less of the volatile flavor components than processed crushed or powdered herbs. It is easy to grind most herbs by hand. You can use everyday kitchen implements to improvise a mortar and pestle. Some herbs should be dried completely before you attempt to grind them. It is surprising how much more flavorful fresh-ground herbs can be.
Fresh herbs like parsley, mints and chives should not be ground finely. It is best to cut them into small pieces, removing the leaves from less-palatable stems. You can mince them into smaller pieces by collecting the cut leaves in the bottom of a small glass and repeatedly slicing with the scissors.
Dry herbs to grind them more finely. Dried herbs like marjoram, dill, tarragon, sage and others can have more flavor when they are ground more finely. Any herb will grind more easily and crumble into smaller pieces when it is dry. Fresh herbs should be placed on a paper towel or cutting board and allowed to dry in a cool, dark area.
Coarse grind dried herbs for more flavor. Put a newspaper (optional) under a cutting board. Place the dried herbs on the cutting board. Run a rolling pin over the whole dried herbs and remove the stems. Collect the ground herbs by tipping the cutting board onto the newspaper. Use the crease in the newspaper to funnel the ground herb into a container. After removing the stems, you can repeat the rolling pin process for a finer texture.
To grind herbs into a powder, they should be completely dried. It is best to let herbs dry at room temperature--if you use the oven to dry the herbs you will lose the volatile components that impart the herb's flavor. You can use a small ceramic bowl or shot glass as a mortar. Use the blunt handle of a kitchen knife or other utensil as the pestle, or grinder. Remove the stems first or strip the leaves off with your fingers. Place the leaves in the bowl or shot glass and grind them with the blunt utensil. Remove any seeds or stems that do not grind easily. Continue grinding to the consistency that you want.
You can also grind whole dried herbs by simply rubbing them between your hands. Hold the herb between your flattened palms and fingers and rub your hands back and forth over a bowl to collect the leaves.