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How To Dry Catnip in 5 Simple Steps

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Catnip is a plant that many people are unfamiliar with. Catmint, catswort, and Nepeta cataria are all names for the same plant. Whether it’s a dog, cat, pig, or ferret, all pet owners strive to offer their pets their favorite foods, snacks, and treats.

Catnip is a favorite among the felines. While many cats enjoy this plant, some prefer it dried rather than fresh, so learning how to dry catnip can benefit you. If you’re a cat lover looking for something new to do with your cat, consider drying catnip leaves.

The plant grows to a height of 20-39 inches, and its primary blooming seasons are late spring and autumn. Catnip is utilized for many purposes, including cultivation, insect repellant, biological control, and even medicinal purposes.

Catnip can be steeped alone or with other herbs to make a tea that is supposed to help with headaches, anxiety, and tension. You may wish to expand your catnip patch in the herb garden with so many uses. Learning how to dry catnip ensures you have it whatever time of year it is needed.

Catnip is a part of the mint family that thrives in bright sunlight. Leaves shrink when dried, as they do with all herbs, so let them mature before drying.

If your cat isn’t a fan of fresh catnip, you might try drying leaves early in the growing season to see if your kitty prefers dried catnip herb. If not, catnip can be dried and used to make a therapeutic tea.

How To Dry Catnip
Dry Catnip – via

A Step by Step Guide on How To Dry Catnip 

If you plant catnip in the early spring, the harvesting season is late spring to early fall. Wait until your catnip plant blossoms before harvesting it, as blossoming catnip plants have scented and stronger leaves.

It’s time to harvest your plant when it reaches a height of six inches or more. Once the morning dew has passed, harvest the whole stems of your catnip to give it a head start in the drying process.

Step 1: Locate the Catnip Plants 

Whether your catnip plant is in the garden, in a pot on the patio, or the conservatory, it is important to harvest your catnip when it is ready for drying.

Step 2: Cut the Catnip Plant

While harvesting, cut off the whole stem of your plant as close to ground level as possible. This will ensure that you do not damage any nearby leaves or branches that may be growing from your plant.

Make sure to harvest the entire plant in a single cutting. You can then cut individual leaves from the stems.

Step 3: Hang Your Catnip to Dry

Because all plants dry at different rates, it is recommended that you hang your catnip upside down until it is completely dry. Suspend your dried catnip herb from a wire or string in a well-ventilated area, such as an attic or garage.

Hang your catnip upside down so that the essential oils drip to the bottom of the stems where they collect rather than evaporating into the air. You can also use brown paper bags with holes poked through them along with rubber bands to hang your catnip inside.

The holes in the bag will allow for air circulation while keeping your catnip leaves together.

Step 4: Crumble Your Catnip Leaves when Dry

Remove it from the hanging area once your catnip has dried thoroughly (usually one to two weeks). Scrunch up large pieces of paper or newsprint to form a ball.

Crush your dried catnip leaves by rolling the paper over them with a rolling pin or bottle. This will allow you to crumble more leaves from fewer stems and also help to release essential oils.

Step 5: Store Your Dried Catnip Leaves

Once you’ve finished crumbing your catnip, put it into an airtight container for storage. The most commonly used containers are glass jars, plastic bowls, or even zipper bags.

Airtight storage prevents your dried catnip from becoming moist with humidity and losing its scent. Once your dried catnip is stored away in an airtight container, it can be kept for six months to a year with no loss in scent or flavor. 

How To Dry Catnip 2
Grew, harvested and dried my own catnip from seed – via Reddit

How To Dry Catnip using Appliances 

There are many other ways how to dry catnip by machine drying, sun drying, freeze-drying, oven drying. Let’s check them.

Machine Drying

Machine drying is the best way to dry your catnip leaves if you have a lot of plants. This allows the leaves to dry more quickly and evenly while avoiding potential mold or mildew growth. You can use an electric food dehydrator for this purpose (a regular oven will work in a pinch).

Sun Drying

Unfortunately, sun-drying catnip leaves can lead to mildew or mold growth. If you choose this method instead of using an electric food dehydrator, ensure that your plant is completely dry before exposing it to the elements.

Also, avoid adding too many moist leaves to a single pile as they are more susceptible to mold and mildew.

Freeze Drying

If you want a truly potent catnip herb, freeze-dried catnip is the way to go. Freeze-drying leaves any residual moisture from living plant matter without actually cooking the chemical compounds out of them.

Ensure that your plant leaves are completely dry before exposing them to the freeze-dryer; otherwise, they may turn brown and appear burned when rehydrated. 

Oven Drying

Oven drying is the fastest method if you need to dry your catnip in a hurry. However, this method has its downsides: leaves can become brittle after being dried at high temperatures, and there is also the chance of burning your plant.

It’s best to dry catnip leaves with a food dehydrator on “low” or in an oven at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or lower for no more than three hours. 

Dehydrator Drying 

If you have a dehydrator, it may be useful to dry your catnip leaves if you need them immediately. However, if you are not in immediate need of fresh or dried leaves, this method is usually less desirable than machine drying.

Due to the intense heat produced by these appliances, essential oils are often lost at higher temperatures.

Final Remarks

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a common herb used by many cat owners to treat their cats for various illnesses and conditions. It’s an herb that induces the effect of euphoria, relaxation and playfulness in many cats.

Catnip is widely available in dried form at pet stores and works just as well when home-dried. Now that you know how to dry catnip, you can make your catnip toy for your pet.

The most important thing to remember about each of the approaches listed above is that they all work. Regardless of the method you use, your catnip will be dried; however, the quality of the dried catnip will be determined by the catnip and the method you utilize.

Although sun drying is a perfectly natural approach, as previously stated, the quality of dried catnip is not always on par with other methods.

Remember that only dried catnip is suitable for storage and use with your cats. If the catnip is dried with stems, you’ll need to remove the flowers and leaves to get rid of them.

Dried catnip should be kept in an airtight container where the weather won’t affect it. If you store your dried catnip in a dry, dark location, it will preserve its quality for two years. A freezer is also a good place to keep your dry catnip.