Drying herbs at home

Drying herbs at home

Herbs are grown for a variety of reasons, and often, the reason they are grown is simply for their beauty. There will be times though, when you grow herbs just for their medicinal or aromatic properties, and this is when you need to know the proper ways to preserve your herbs after harvesting them.

Most of the preservation methods for herbs deal with how to dry them out, and there are different techniques for this, including freeze drying, air drying, bag drying, tray drying, and microwave drying. Let’s look at the methods which you can try at home.

Bag drying

drying herbsThis method is great for long stemmed herbs like sage, parsley, dill, and basil. Before you dry the herbs, remove the flowers and roots, wash the stem, and soak it for a few hours to remove any remaining dirt.

Hang the stalk upside down in bunches, inside paper bags (punch holes in the bag), to allow the oils to flow towards the leaf tips and increase their concentration. The paper bags should be tied up around the stalks near the end of the cuttings. The herb cuttings should be left to dry in a dark, but well ventilated area, for up to 2 weeks.

The herbs are ready for storage, when the leaves have become crumbly and brittle. You should then pluck the leaves from the stem, and store them away in an airtight jar.

Tray drying

Tray drying involves just drying and storing the leaves and their stems. It is similar to bag drying, except that it is much simpler. Once the herbs have been cleaned, remove the leaves including their stems, place them on a tray, and put away the tray in a dark but well ventilated area for a few days. The tray should be checked once every day, turning the leaves over to enable them to thoroughly dry. The downside of tray drying is it does not preserve as much of the herb’s essential oils like other drying methods.

dried herbs oregano

Microwave drying

Microwave drying is the fastest method to dry herbs. You can do this if you have a microwave oven. To do this, place the herbs on a paper plate or paper towel, and put them into your microwave oven. Make sure the herbs are totally dry before you turn on the power. Set the oven at medium or high power, and let it run for a few minutes.

2-3 minute bursts are often sufficient, but do check first by rubbing the leaves between your fingers. If the leaves are still not brittle enough, continue to microwave until the right dryness level is reached.

Remember not to inadvertently cook your herbs, by turning on the power too high, or leaving the herbs in there too long. You could end up damaging the herbs (and your microwave oven).

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