Herbs play a large part in our chicken-keeping as well as my home cooking. Over the years, I have been enlarging our herb garden and growing more varieties of culinary herbs to use fresh all summer and also dry for use over the winter.
Until recently, I had been drying the herbs on cooling racks on the kitchen counter. Then I saw a cool drying rack on Pinterest used for drying flowers and a light bulb went off. Keep reading to learn how to make my tiered herb drying rack using old picture frames.
The tiers allow you to separate three different herbs on the various levels and screening allows air flow to ensure the herbs dry quickly and evenly. The best part is that you use old picture frames - and who doesn't have a stack of them in their garage? Even if you don't, you can pick up inexpensive framed artwork at Goodwill and repurpose the frames.
What you'll Need:
Three wooden picture frames of varying sizes
Can of spray paint
Window screening (great use for discarded screen windows that have slight damage)
Length of chain (approximately 8 feet)
20 small eyehooks
Cordless drill with small drill bit
Spray the frames in the color of your choice and let dry. Cut pieces of screen to fit the back of each frame and staple around the edges, pulling the screen taut.
Predrill a hole in the corner of each frame on the right side, and also in the upper two tiers underside as well. Screw an eyehook into each corner.
Cut chain into 8 inch lengths and using the pliers to bend open each end, attach one length to each eye hook on the bottom tier, then attach the middle tier to the bottom tier, painted sides of each frame facing up. Attach a length of chain to each eye hook on the top of the top tier and then open the top link of each length of chain to connect the four, and attach one final shorter length to hang your rack.
Then find a place out of the way (where it's not damp) to let your herbs dry and hang your drying rack. I have mine hanging from the curtain rod in our guest bathroom for now. Different herbs take different lengths of time depending on their water content, so keep checking periodically on your herbs progress. Some, like dill and parsley, will only take a few days, others such as basil and sage might take a week or so - depending on the relative humidity in your home and how dry the air is.
When the herbs are dry, crush them and store them in covered glass jars. Since I have such an excess of herbs, I have been mixing them into my chickens' feed year round for the past year or so. I just sprinkle a bit of an herbal mix I've developed into my chickens’ daily feed.
They really seem to love it and I love that they are getting additional nutrients. I also still add fresh herbs to the nesting boxes and coop as well.
The following herbs can be mixed and matched into your own custom blend depending on what you have available. Try to choose several herbs from each category below for a well-rounded supplement:
Orange Egg Yolks:
For a more comprehensive list of the common culinary herbs and their health benefits, click HERE.