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How to dry herbs

By Edited Jun 13, 2015 0 0

Drying herbs is the most efficient way to preserve your herbs for later use. The techniques are fairly simple but their key issues to keep in mind to help you get the most flavor out of the herbs that you grow.

Your first step is to harvest the herbs. You want the herb stems themselves to be as dry as possible when you pick them but you also want them to have maximum oil content. The oil content is highest in herbs in the morning but so is the dew on the plants themselves. Pick your herbs as soon as the dew dries but still in the morning if that is possible. In this way you maximize oil contents while reducing the moisture on the plant. Too much moisture at any stage in the drying process can lead to mold in your herbs and ruin a batch.

Find a warm, dry place to dry your herbs. Many people dry herbs in an attic. Do not dry them in the cooking steam of the kitchen or the moisture from a bathroom. They tend to be dry and hot. Likewise the work shed is a good option. However keep in mind that the shed should not have much foot traffic and it should not certainly not have animals living in it, as a barn would. Any dust and grime that gets on your herbs while they are drawing will stay on your herbs. You do not want herbs covered in manure dust.

You will hang your harvested herbs from the ceiling of your attic or your shed. People often put nails in the rafters to hang the herbs. If the herb stems are small you can bunch stems together, perhaps four at a time. You can tie them together in a loose loop of twine or string and hang decline from the nail. A larger herb stem can be hung by itself from the nail. The key is to keep plenty of air flow through the stem so that the interior of the bundle does not mold.

When the leaves are dry enough to crumble, remove the leaves from the stem. Throw away the stems; they will likely still be a bit moist. It if you leave the leaves on the stem until the stems are entirely dry, your leaves will have lost some of their oil content making your dried herb a less favorable product. Your ideal point of removing the leaves again is to when the leaves themselves are entirely dry. Leave your leaves in a thin layer on a tray overnight to make sure that they're dry and then package them loosely in a glass container. Do not pack the leaves down. If they stay whole there is more flavor in the leaves because they maintain more of their oils. Put your leaves in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid for best results.



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