Buying herbs in the grocery stores are very expensive and you don’t get a very large amount. So now is the time to start planning what you want to grow and dry. Are you planning on using herbs for cooking, teas, or making potpourri?
Herbs are the easies to dry, because of the low moisture content. Spread them out on the shelves of your dryer, drying rack outside or by bundling and hanging them in a warm place inside. If drying outside be careful they don’t blow away when dry. Cover with cheesecloth or netting.
If well preserved the flavor will last 6 to 12 months, you usually don’t need to wash them if you grow them organically. Always pick them early to mid morning before the sun burns off the oils. If you are harvesting herbs for seeds, they should be turning brown and hardening, but not ready to shatter.
There are many methods of drying;
- Indoor air-drying: tying herb stems in bundles and hanging them upside down.
- Solar drying; If you live in an area with lots of sun, use this method, but don’t leave out to long under direct sun or they will bleach out the color.
- Dehydrating with a Excalibur Dehydrator; place herbs on the drying shelves and turn the machine on. (My way of drying)
- Oven drying; is very time consuming, not recommended.
- Microwave drying; not recommended.
And remember the herbs you bought and stuck in the refrigerator? Well that is a form of drying, believe it or not. They dry beautifully and are very crispy when found. Ok I am laughing, because any special herb I buy during the winter when needed ends up exactly this way. Crumble and put in a jar and seal it.
There are some herbs that are better off if they are frozen; they retain their flavor better than drying; Basil, borage, chives, cilantro, lemon grass, mint and parsley.
When using dried herbs in recipes, remember that they are more concentrated; so use about half the amount called for in any recipes calling for fresh herbs. To use for teas, pour boiling water over a teaspoon or tablespoon and steep for 5 to 10 minutes depending on your taste.