How To Dry Your Herbs
Drying herbs is a centuries old practice that allows the flavour and medicinal properties of herbs to be used long after they are harvested. Keep reading to learn how to dry your herbs for use in cooking.
Harvesting Your Herbs
Try to harvest your herbs before the sun gets really warm. If the sun is hot, it will burn the herbs’ essential oils off the leaves and your produce will lose flavour and nutrients.
Since most people grow their herbs organically, washing is not usually necessary and will tend to remove some of the oils from the leaves.
Preserving Your Herbs
Once you have harvested your Sweet Valley herbs for the season, you will need to figure out how you want to preserve them.
There are a few options for storing your herbs, like freezing, processing, and drying. In this article, I will explain how to dry your herbs successfully, so you get the most flavour from them throughout the winter months. When herbs are dried, they are safe from bacteria, mold, and yeast, and will remain potent for at least six to twelve months if stored properly.
To remove the moisture from the leaves, all you need is air circulation and some warmth can also help speed this process up. Here are a couple ways you can achieve this.
Hang Your Herbs to Dry
Tie your herbs together in bunches and hang them, leafy ends down, so the essential oils in the stems will flow into the leaves as they dry.
To prevent dust from collecting on the drying leaves and sun from bleaching their flavour, place each bunch inside a paper bag before hanging. Gather the top of the bag and tie the herb stems so the leaves hang freely inside the bag. For ventilation, cut out the bottom of the bag or punch air holes in the sides.
Use a Dehydrator
Using a dehydrator is another easy way to dry herbs. First check your dehydrator’s settings or manual for the recommended temperature for herbs. Then place them on the shelves, making sure to leave space for airflow and avoid overlapping stems and leaves.
Storing Dried Herbs
Your Sweet Valley herbs are dried once they can easily be crumbled. You can store dried herbs whole on the stems in a paper bag which is then sealed in a ziplock bag. It is important to note that whole leaves and seeds retain oils better in storage than crumbled herbs. But having some pre-mixed spice blends — such as those for Italian, Mexican or barbecue dishes — can be a big timesaver.