Got Herbs?

Try this bulk drying process

This article was written for the HAALo Botanicals newsletter titled The vHerbiage

The vHerbiage: Processing Herbs

Since HAALo was founded, dozens of people have asked where our herbs come from and how we process them. Sometimes, we hear concerns about the quality of the herbs or the efficacy of our harvesting and dying process, but mostly it seems our customers are just surprised by the quantity of herbs we process!

Our herbs are either cultivated in-house by our staff, dropped off by local farms or foragers, or ordered from vetted companies (check out our full list of vendors here!) as many herbs we provide aren’t native to California. But for everyone curious about how we process our herbs, here’s a step-by-step guide, from harvesting to storing, that you can implement yourself.


This refers to taking cuttings from live plants, which can take some time when gathering large quantities. There are many details to note when harvesting that may affect how much you collect, from size, to color, to seasonality. Furthermore, when collecting, we always keep in mind how much of each herb we need. Peppermint for instance, is a light, bulky, inexpensive herb, useful for many teas and treatments, thus we gather a lot each time. Chrysanthemum, on the other hand, is more expensive, less widely used, and thus, not imperative to cut in large quantities.

Tips: It’s useful when collecting to use specialized pruning shears and to bring a large basket with a wide mouth for laying the herbs down relatively flat and uncrumpled. They should also be facing the same way and grouped, to make them easier to grab together. Lastly, when cutting each plant, be sure to make a generous enough cutting that it will be easy to bundle them, but not so generous as to truncate the entire plant. Try to leave enough stem (a few inches should do) so it continues to grow for future harvests.



This is the process of gathering the herbs into small bouquets. Make sure to have string or twine on hand. You can also use rubber bands, though we don’t prefer them since the constriction can damage the herb stalks while they are drying.

To bundle, grab a handful of your plant by the stems. Depending on the plant, the handful could be the size of a quarter to the size of a fist. Make sure the cuts are all about the same length. While avoiding as many leaves as possible, tie the string (or loop the rubber band) tight enough around the stems so they hold together in a small bouquet. And attach the name tag if using.

Tips: Some herbs are hard to differentiate once dried so it also may be useful to create name tags, with stickers or holepunched paper.


This is the easiest part! Find a dry shaded spot around your house to hang the herbs up-side-down. Check on them every few days to see if they are dry. Don’t leave them too long or they won’t retain their nutrients or color. And try not to leave them in the sun, as this will fade the color.


This refers to the practice of rolling dried bundles of herbs over a wire mesh screen to separate the leaves from the stems. This practice is especially popular with practitioners or home users who harvest and dry large quantities of herbs, because it’s more efficient than picking leaves by hand. Since the leaves are the most medicinally concentrated, most herbalists don’t want to dilute their treatments with stems, which won’t offer as many medicinal nutrients.


Laying a mesh wire screen flat over a hollow surface, an herbalist will roll a bundle of herbs over the screen. In just a couple minutes, the leaves will rub off and fall through the screen, leaving the long stems perfectly intact.

An herbalist can use different sized screens depending on how big they want their herb pieces to be, and can garble several herbs at the same time for an already mixed tea!

Since most people don’t have a garbler on hand, you can try using a fine mesh strainer, or even rubbing the herbs between your hands.


Like any self-respecting herbalists, we store our garbled herbs in mason jars! But any air tight containers will do for the freshest taste and most medicinal value. If you don’t have air tight containers, the next best thing is ensuring your containers don’t allow moisture/humidity, which will turn your herbs to mold.


If you want to know more, check out this video and this video featuring our very own Shea Smith for a more detailed look at herb processing using mint and rosemary. Or come by the shop and speak to one of our specialists!