Even if you don’t live in the countryside, you can bring a bit of an old-world, rustic energy to your kitchen by hanging up strands of garlic, onions, or herbs. At my local market, I am often inspired to pick up a strand of onions to bring life and abundance to my kitchen, never mind the practicality of having seasonings and supplies right at hand for the week. Whether you buy herbs from a green market or grocery store, or grow them in your garden, you can bundle them and hang them in your kitchen to dry to make a dried herb swag—and you don’t even need to wait before you clip from the stems to add a needed bit of sage to a chicken or some thyme blossoms to a salad.
In fact, having the ingredients just where they are needed might spark inspiration as you prepare your evening meals. Aside from the convenience and no-waste approach, swags add warmth, color, and fragrance to a kitchen in just a few minutes, making this a practical little project for anyone who is just trying to stay ahead of a busy week!
You will need:
- 6 bunches of fresh herbs and edible flowers in any combination
- The swag pictured includes sage, thyme, lemon balm, and basil, and stems of lavender and scented geranium.
- Florist’s twine, or any decorative fiber, for binding
How-to make a dried herb swag:
- Collect 6 bunches of herbs, including some with flowers, from a garden, market, or supermarket. Rinse and let dry completely (damp herbs will mold in the swag).
- Trim the stems and leaves to your desired amount of tidiness and length. Next, cut a 6-inch (15-cm) length of twine and set aside in easy reach.
- Lay the herbs and flowers on a table and gather them in your hand, placing shorter stems at the top and up front, longer ones in the back. Aim for a mix, and bunch stems together neatly but not to too tightly. The arrangement should be about 5 inches (12 cm) in diameter, similar in size to a handful of dried spaghetti.
- Holding the flowers in your nondominant hand, bind the bunch with the twine. Knot the first loop of twine, to keep it in place, then wrap the stems from top to bottom as shown. Secure with a small knot and tuck in the tail.
- Hang the swag away from too much heat and sunlight for best results. The herbs should become totally dry in about two weeks, but feel free to pinch or trim off small amounts to use for seasoning while the swag is drying.
- Once the swag is completely dry, you can leave it hanging up or store the dried bundle in a jar—or several jars if you want to separate each herb. To use in cooking, pinch or cut off a small amount and reinvigorate the plant oils by rubbing the dried material between your palms before tossing them into the pot or dish.
Shop Fuss’ new book, Field, Flower, Vase below to discover how to make more beautiful, simple floral arrangements like this:
All photographs copyright © 2021 Chelsea Fuss. Cover © 2021 Abrams.