Preserving/drying herbs

Thu. Aug. 14, 2014

Click below to listen to my Garden Bite radio show:  Preserving/drying herbs

Did you know that many of the dried herbs you buy in a regular grocery store are at least 3 years old when you buy them?  Why not dry your own!?  The easiest method, and the one that I use, is a dehydrator.

I’ve dried lots of herbs including basil, rosemary and thyme as well as mint.  But I also dry tomatoes.  It’s a bit messy and putzy but the taste of a dried cherry tomato that you grew is just outstanding!  They’re fantastic on salads.  I dry them and then freeze them or put them in an airtight container such as a jar.

Leave plenty of room for air circulation around what your drying.  Leave the dehydrator in a sunless, dry room.  You can also dry long stemmed items like peppermint with a paper bag and some twine.  Cut the bottom of the bag and poke holes in the side.  Hang upside down in a sunless, dry room.

For the best results, cut your herbs just before they flower, that’s when their essential oils at at their peak.  Cut in the morning just after the dew has lifted on a hot, dry day.

Leave your herbs alone for at least 24 hours before checking back!  Then just keep checking back.  The time varies depending on how much moisture is in the plant when you cut it.

Check out this quickie on Drying Herbs [Purdue University]

Some fresh herbs don’t dry well.  They are chives, parsley, chervil and sweet basil.  You can freeze these in water.  Just harvest the leaves, chop them, place them in ice cube trays and fill the trays with water.  Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray and store them in freezer bags in the fridge.  They’ll work well in soups and stews!

As soon as the leaves are crackly dry and crumble easily, remove them from the stems and store in an airtight jar or you could put them in freezer bags (making sure you get the air out).  They’ll store well for up to 18 months.

Some fresh herbs don’t dry well.  They are chives, parsley, chervil and sweet basil.  You can freeze these in water.  Just harvest the leaves, chop them, place them in ice cube trays and fill the trays with water.  Once frozen, pop the cubes out of the tray and store them in freezer bags in the fridge.  They’ll work well in soups and stews!  Organic Gardening magazine has snapshots of how to freeze your herbs.

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