Lemon verbena is an herb that grows prolifically. It's a native of Chile and Peru where it naturally grows to 10 feet tall. It's used to flavor salads, soups and drinks. A few fresh lemon verbena leaves in iced tea is refreshing. Use in any dish that you would like a mild lemon flavor without the sourness of real lemons. Dried lemon verbena is used in teas, potpourri and as a seasoning as well.
Cut the verbena before it begins flowering. Most herbs, including verbena lose flavor intensity while blossoming.
Wash the stems and leaves by running under the faucet in the kitchen or in a big tub in the back yard. Fill the tub with water, add the verbena stems, swish around and then remove the verbena. Drain the tub. Repeat at least twice to remove soil, dust and bugs.
Shake the stems to remove excess water. Tie the stems together with a rubber band. The bunch of verbena stems should be no more than an inch in diameter. More than that slows down the drying process.
Screw the cup hooks into a wood beam where the drying bunches will be out of the sunlight. Outside is fine if you don't get much rain and the weather is in the 70's and 80's. Inside works as well in a warm dry place. The faster the herbs dry the less possibility of mold.
Bend a large paper clip so it resembles an "S" shape. Slip one end of the "S" into the rubber band. Use the other end to attach the bunch of verbena to the cup hook.
Test the verbena to see if it's dry by bending a stem. It should be brittle and snap. If it bends, continue the drying process.
Things You Will Need
- Sink or tub
- Running water
- Rubber bands
- Paper clips
- Cup hooks
- Store the verbena by crumbling the leaves off the stems into a large glass jar.
- Wash the verbena thoroughly before drying. You don't want dried bugs in your dried verbena
- Lemon verbena can be dried in a slow oven but the tendency is to rush the process and end up with cooked verbena rather than dried.
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