Last updated on October 25th, 2023 at 12:34 pm
At first it was a single plant. But then it sowed itself. Now catnip proliferates in the garden. Now it’s time to cut the perennial and dry the best parts of the plant!
Drying catnip is a simple process that helps preserve the potency of this herb, making it more appealing to cats. Here’s how to dry catnip:
1. Harvest Catnip:
- Start by harvesting fresh catnip from your garden. You can cut the stems with leaves or individual leaves, depending on your preference. For the best flavor and aroma, harvest catnip when the plant is in full bloom.
2. Choose a Drying Method:
- There are several methods for drying catnip:
- Air Drying: This is the most common and straightforward method. Bundle the catnip stems together and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated, dry, and dark area. Ensure the catnip is not exposed to direct sunlight, as it can cause the herb to lose some of its essential oils.
- Oven Drying: You can also dry catnip in the oven. Place the harvested catnip on a baking sheet and set your oven to its lowest possible temperature (usually around 170°F or 75°C). Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Check the catnip every 15 minutes until it’s dry, which may take several hours.
- Dehydrator: If you have a food dehydrator, you can use it to dry catnip quickly. Set the temperature to around 95°F (35°C) and spread the catnip leaves or stems on the trays. Check regularly until the catnip is fully dried.
3. Check for Dryness:
- The catnip is dry when it crumbles easily when touched. It should be brittle and free of moisture. This process can take a few days to a week, depending on the drying method and conditions.
4. Store Properly:
- Once the catnip is dry, store it in an airtight container, such as a glass jar or a plastic bag with the air squeezed out. Keep the container in a cool, dark place to preserve the catnip’s freshness and potency.
- You can use dried catnip to make cat toys, sprinkle it on scratching posts, or offer it to your feline friends. Be aware that catnip loses its potency over time, so it’s a good practice to refresh the supply every few months.
Remember that while catnip has a strong attraction for many cats, it doesn’t affect all cats in the same way. Some cats may be indifferent to it, while others may become playful or relaxed. Always use catnip in moderation, as an excessive amount can lead to overstimulation in some cats.
Why dry it at all?
It is true that catnip tastes best when fresh and its smell is most intense in this form thanks to the essential oils it contains. But in dried form, it has a longer shelf life. Thus, you save stress in thinking about what you can do with the plant within a short period of time.
Drying catnip – Here’s how!
All above-ground parts of the catnip plant are suitable for drying. It is best to harvest the catnip just before or during the flowering period. Cut the stems to just above the ground. Then clean the stems (e.g., shake off dried mud). Important: Do not rinse with water. This will cause some of the essential oils to be lost.
Now the stems can be tied together into a bouquet and hung with string, for example, in the attic. Likewise, the leaves can be plucked and spread out on a baking sheet or newspaper and dried.
Noteworthy for drying:
- Where: in an air-dry, warm and shady room.
- if necessary, spread out on a shady balcony
- not in the kitchen or cellar (often high humidity)
- faster drying method: in a dehydrator or oven at max. 50 °C
- rather let dry longer than too short (danger of mold)
- store dried catnip in dark, closed containers.
And what do you do with the dried catnip?
The dried catnip is edible and can be used
- to please cats
- for tea
- for cold infusions
- for smoking
- for smoking
- for seasoning
- for external applications like poultices
Tips & Tricks
Keeping catnip out of direct sunlight and heat while drying is extremely important. Light and heat destroy much of the essential oils it contains – the ones that make catnip so valuable.