A Guide to Preserving and Storing Dried Herbs in Jars

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Learn about preserving and storing dried herbs in jars, the benefits, best practices, and things to avoid to keep your dried herbs fresh.

mason jars filled with dried herbs

Summer is the season of gardening and farmers markets. I have been growing a garden for many, many years but just started preserving my own herbs in the past couple of years. Of course I prefer fresh herbs over dried herbs any day, but I prefer to cook with dried herbs from my own garden in the winter rather than buy not-so-fresh herbs from the grocery store.

I’ve learned a lot about harvesting and drying herbs for storage and want to share with you what I’ve learned from experience and research about storing dried herbs in airtight containers such as mason jars.

I am a huge fan of mason jars. I organize and store many of my baking and pantry items in mason jars. See my Mason Jar Pantry Organization post for more details. So it only makes sense that I also store all of my homegrown herbs in mason jars.


Is it better to store dried herbs in glass or plastic?

Glass is always the better option for food storage because plastic bags and containers may leach chemicals into food.

How long do dried herbs last in a Mason jar?

Dried herbs have a shelf life anywhere from 1-3 years when stored in a mason jar. There is a wide range due to several factors. If the jar is stored in a dry, dark, cool place the herbs will last longer. If the herbs are left whole instead of crushed, they will also last longer.

What should you avoid when storing herbs?

When storing dried herbs, avoid exposure to air, sunlight, humidity, moisture, and heat. You also want to avoid crushing all your herbs at once. If possible, leave the majority of the leaves whole until you are ready to use them. This is the best way to preserve the nutrients in the dried herbs.

Benefits of Storing Dried Herbs in Jars

Prevents nutrient loss

Dried herbs are preserved best in an airtight container because oxygen breaks down the nutrients over time. Mason jars with screw-on lids are extremely airtight. You can also find tinted mason jars in colors such as blue and amber. These jars will also help prevent nutrient loss because they block some of the sunlight that would otherwise filter in.


Mason jars are a great tool for organizing any spice shelf or pantry. You can easily see what’s inside the jars as well as how much of an ingredient you have left. This helps prevent waste and helps you know when it’s time to buy or grow more. Mason jars are also easy and fun to label.


You know all those dried herbs you buy from the grocery store? The plastic containers they come in just get tossed out once they’re empty. But with mason jars, once they’re empty you can either refill them with herbs from your garden or farmers market, or even use them for another purpose altogether. One thing’s for sure…they won’t end up in the landfill.

mason jars filled with dried herbs and labeled

Best Practices for Storing Dried Herbs in Jars

Dry Completely Before Storing

Before storing dried herbs, it is very important to make sure they are completely dry. If you put herbs into mason jars when they still have moisture, they will mold. One way to make sure the herbs are completely dry before storing is to rub them between your palms. If they crumble when rubbed, then they are ready for storage.

Keep Leaves Whole

Herbs will keep more of their flavor if you wait to crush their leaves until you are ready to use them. Source In reality, it wouldn’t be efficient to have to crush the leaves every time you grab for the basil while cooking. Instead, only crush what you think you will use in the next 3 months. Store the rest of the leaves whole in separate glass containers. I usually fill several mason jars with whole herbs because they take up way more space than crushed herbs.

Keep Out of Direct Sunlight

A sunny kitchen is a beautiful thing, but unfortunately it’s not the best thing for your dried herbs. Sunlight will cause your herbs to lose their nutrients more quickly. For long term storage, keep your herbs in dark place such as a cabinet, cupboard, or pantry. This is especially important for medicinal herbs because their potency is essential for maximum effectiveness.

Store in a Cool, Dry Area

Heat and humidity will both impact the quality of dried herbs. Aim to store herbs in a cooler area of the house away from heat sources such as stoves, ovens or fireplaces. This may include a pantry, cupboard, drawer, or cabinet or another room in the house that stays cool and dry. Never store dried herbs in a bathroom or anywhere that may experience high humidity.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

mason jars on shelf filled with dried herbs

Tools You May Need:

Quart size mason jars

Pint size mason jars

Embossing label maker

Wide mouth plastic funnel

Storage mason jar lids

Food dehydrator – I just upgraded to this one from a very basic round one I’ve had for years and I love it!

herbs in food dehydrator

Steps for Storing Dried Herbs in Jars

Harvest Fresh Herbs

Most herbs are best harvested on a sunny morning after the dew has lifted. However, if this doesn’t work with your schedule, it’s better to harvest at a different time than not at all. Look for herbs whose leaves are free of disease or signs of bugs.

Wash Herbs If Necessary

If your herbs don’t show signs of dirt or bugs, it’s not necessary to wash them. Some herbs, especially delicate flowers like calendula and German chamomile, should not be washed.

Dry Herbs

There are many different methods of drying herbs. You can hang them in a bundle covered with paper bags and a rubberband, dry them at a low temperature on a cookie sheet in the oven or food dehydrator, or even air drying in a single layer on a tray or wide basket.

Herbs are ready to be stored when they are completely dry and crumble when you rub them between your palms.

Remove From Stem

For an easy way to remove the leaves from their stem, grab the top of the stem with one hand. With the other hand, make a circle by touching your thumb to your index finger and then slide them down the stem.

Crush or Leave Whole

Now you will either crush the herbs by hand or with a food processor, or you will leave them whole for long term storage and move on to the next step.

Fill & Label Jar

Using a wide mouth funnel, fill a clean mason jar with your dried herbs. Screw on an airtight lid.

Labeling your jars with the name of the herb is essential, especially for a specific herb that looks almost identical to another when crushed, such as basil, oregano, and parsley.  The embossed labeler is a great way to label jars because I don’t have the nicest handwriting and these labels come out so neat and tidy.


For culinary herbs that I plan to use within the next 3 months, I have a shelf in the kitchen with small spice jars where I can easily reach them while cooking.

For longer term storage and medicinal herbs, store herbs in a dark area in a cool, dry place such as a cabinet, cupboard, drawer, or pantry.

jar of dried herbs calendula

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