Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Drying herbs
It’s herb mania right now. I’ve got a wonderful sweet basil growing right now. The aroma is incredible and the taste, sensational when added to tomato soup as well as a number of other dishes. I also have some ‘Hot & Spicy’ oregano, which I plan to dry. Drying your own herbs is not only a great way to preserve your harvest but to get the best quality for a cheap price. There are several drying methods. The one I use is a dehydrator.
It’s one of those kitchen gadgets you buy thinking “oh this is great” and then you hardly ever use it and are looking for a place to store it. If you have one, dig it out!
I use it to dry all kinds of herbs including tarragon, parsley and rosemary. I also dry tomatoes and flowers too.
To prevent mold, don’t pack it too full, you want plenty of air movement, this also helps them dry quicker.
For the best results, cut your herbs just before they flower, that’s when their essential oils are at their peak. Cut them in the morning after the dew is gone on a day that’s going to be hot and dry. There’s no need to wash your homegrown herbs unless they’re dirty.
A cheap and easy way to dry long-stemmed herbs like rosemary and spearmint is to bunch them up. Tie string around the stems of your bunch about 2 inches down. Cut the bottom out of a paper bag, poke ventilation holes in it and place your herb bunch in the bag. Hang upside down in a sunless area with low humidity.
Check out this quickie on Drying Herbs [Purdue University] this includes microwaving them. Be careful with this one!
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.
Fantastic Basil cream sauce!
- 1 c. fresh basil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 oz. goat cheese
- 1/2 c. plain yogurt (not greek)
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
Mince the basil and garlic and mix with goat cheese, yogurt and olive oil in a blender or processor until smooth. Put on salads or anything else that you can think of!