How to Dry Fresh Herbs?
I love the aroma and flavor that fresh herbs add to my dishes but often it pays tolearn how to dry fresh herbs, especially if you want a year long supply of your favorite herbs .It is quiet a hassle to keep running to your nearest supermarket every time your recipe demands for specific herbs!! Drying fresh herbs is not such a difficult task. Here are a few instructions on how to dry fresh herbs.
Air Drying Fresh Herbs
- Snip of 4-6 inches of the stem and leaves of the herbs from your herb garden. Remove the dry and diseased leaves and ensure that there is no moisture left on the herbs.
- Hold the end of the stems together in a bundle and tie up the end of the stems tightly with a string or rubber band. If you are drying herbs with high moisture content then make smaller bundles.
- Punch holes into a paper bag and then cover the bundle in the bag by closing and tying the neck of the bag around the stem. Don't crowd the bag.
- Hang it upside down. You can use metal or plastic curtain hooks to hang it from the curtain rods itself. Ensure that they are kept in a warm and airy room.
- Keep checking the bundle to see if it has loosened or of there is any mold formation of any sort.
- When the leaves crumble easily in your hands the herb is ready to be stored. Strip the stems of the leaves, crumble them and store them in glass jars with screw tops. Keep the jars in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Air drying is the best method of drying fresh herbs as they do not deplete the oil content of the herbs and thus retain the majority of its flavor. It is also easy to do and less expensive but obviously time consuming. Bay, Dill, Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary, Summer Savory and Thyme and are the herbs that dry the best in this method as they have a high moisture content.
Drying Fresh herbs in the Food Dehydrator
Though the usage of Food Dehydrators can prove to be more expensive than the normal methods of drying fresh herb, they can dehydrate large amounts of materiel at once. Follow the instructions provided with your food dehydrator for drying herbs like chives, mint and tarragon.
Refrigerator Drying of Fresh Herbs
Place the stems in a brown paper bag, fold and staple the bag and keep it on one of the refrigerator racks. Do not put them in the vegetable or fruit bins because of the high moisture content in it and check them periodically. In 2 weeks the herbs should be done. The herbs that dry well in the refrigerator are basil, dill, mint, rosemary and tarragon.
Microwave and Oven Drying of Fresh Herbs
It is best to avoid this method because even though it helps in drying fresh herbs fast it dries up all the oil content of the herbs thereby depleting it of its flavor. For Microwave drying of herbs, place them on a paper plate and microwave for 2 min. Check every 30 secs. In an oven place the herbs on a cookie sheet and cook for 15 min at around 185 degrees. It might take longer if the herb stems are thick. Check periodically and turn them over to ensure that they dry uniformly.
Points to note when drying fresh herbs
- Pick up your herbs from your herb garden sometime between late morning and afternoon, this way the morning dew would have dried up and the herb would be fresh and not wilted because of the afternoon sun.
- Try drying sage, mints, rosemary, thyme, winter savory, bay leaves, oregano, marjoram and dill as they retain an intense flavor after drying.
- Herbs that lose their flavor after drying are basil, chives, parsley and cilantro.
- Crush the dried herbs before using them. This will help release the fragrant oils of the herbs.