Need to know how to dry herbs correctly? You are at the right site. Even though we all love fresh herbs in our cooking, it’s not always a possibility. That’s why drying your herbs comes in so handy. You can still enjoy the delicious taste of fresh herbs all year long, even if your plants aren’t quite ready for harvest yet. Saving and preserving herbs year after year is the best way to keep a stock of your most used plants so they are ready when you are.
Unfortunately, too many people ruin their herbs in the process of drying them. These delicate plants need a little TLC to preserve the most flavor (and nutrients) and still make them easy to use. Here are five tips to drying herbs correctly.
There are three ways to dry herbs: Air drying, dehydration in the oven, use of a professional dehydrator. The method is based on the type of plant, and personal preference. Generally, any method will work for any plant.
1. When it’s time to harvest herbs, cut them down mid-morning, about 10 AM. This is ideal because before the freshly developed oils have been burned off by the sun. Cut only healthy plants, removing any sickly, dried, or wilty leaves. You can rinse them if you must, but pat dry carefully so you don’t disturb the leaves too much.
2. Air-drying works best for low-moisture herbs like marjoram, oregano, rosemary and dill. Simply gather herbs in small bunches, tie them with a twist tie, string, or wire, and wrap each bundle in a paper bag or muslin cloth. Allow for ventilation and hand them indoors, out of direct sunlight.
3. Using an oven seems convenient, but it can be tricky to keep the temperature low enough to not cook the herbs. Plants like basil, chives and mint contain more moisture and it’s best to dry them in a dehydrator or oven. To use an oven, place herbs on a wire rack placed over a cookie sheet. Turn the oven to 180, and then turn it off. Place the herbs in the warm (but off) oven, and close it until they have cooled completely.
4. If you are lucky enough to have access to a food dehydrator, this is the most efficient way. It dries herbs quickly and preserves the most vitamins and minerals. Dehydrators each have their own instructions, so it’s best to follow the directions for your machine.
5. Whatever you do, don’t use a microwave. This is not a reliable method, and often does more harm than good. It’s not energy efficient, doesn’t preserve color or nutrition very well and is not recommended.