Sunday, May 22, 2011

Herbsteading 101/ Drying Herbs

                Drying your herbs has to be the easiest chore to this "make your own" lesson group, and keep in mind, I use this easy method for drying flowers too, did I say how easy it is?  A proper dried herb will keep most of it's original color, aroma and value. Wash the herbs only if they really need it, and make sure they are properly dried before hanging.  Simply tie a bunch with a rubber band and hang up side down in a well ventilated place making sure the air flow can evenly dry the bunch. A ideal place could be a barn, attic, kitchen or garden shed. Drying time varies between each herb, but for the most part, leafy herbs used as spice should be brittle enough to break with your fingers but not so much as to crumble. Roots and barks take longer and should really be dried differently. This post is mainly geared towards leafy herbs and flowers, as that is what I use most.  The end product should smell, look and taste pretty much like fresh. Store in clean, dry and  air tight, glass jars for longest shelf life, and keep in a dry, dark and cool place. Be sure to label each jar so you know what it is.
       Other methods include drying racks, rooms and dehydrators, all of which should come with or can be found directions for best use. There is also a microwave method, but I haven't tested it, but would like to, to compare. If you prefer fresh, and many do, stock up on ice cube trays and freeze them for easy access and storage. Any way you do it, drying your home grown herbs is easy and so much better tasting than store bought, which can remain on store shelves for up to a year before being bought, just herb for thought!


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