For people who cook with herbs, knowing how to dry herbs is a particularly important skill especially if you want to retain the herb’s flavor and nutrient.
Furthermore, being able to dry herbs especially for an upcoming autumn or winter could prove financially beneficial as growing, harvesting, and drying your herbs could prove cheaper than purchasing dried herbs from stores.
Other benefits of drying herbs include; drying protects the herbs from mold, yeast, and bacterial growth that could occur if the herb has high moisture content, drying herbs is a good preservation technique that retains the herb’s nutrients and allows the herbs to stay edible for up to a year.
Below are various ways to dry fresh herbs;
1. Outdoor Solar Drying
This method is suitable for areas that get sufficient sunlight up to one hundred degrees Fahrenheit and humidity of about sixty percent.
The first step is to let the dew dry off from the herbs, then you bundle up the herbs using a strap or a rubber band carefully letting the buds, flowers, and leaves face the ground.
The next step is to place the bundles in an area that accesses sunlight but not direct sunlight as direct sunlight may cause the herbs to bleach or lose flavor.
When they are bundled up, tie a bag around the bundle to help catch the dry seeds that fall and also to protect against direct sunlight.
Lastly, to know if there is no moisture left, analyze the herbs to see if they have started to become brittle and crispy. If they have, then the herbs are ready.
2. Indoor Air Drying
Indoor drying is better than outdoor solar drying as the herbs retain more of their quality, flavor, nutrients, and color.
The first step of indoor air drying is to bundle up the herbs into a bunch using a strap or a rubber band. Tie the herbs but avoid tying from sensitive areas such as the buds and flowers.
Secondly, wrap a bag and tie it at the neck to speed up the drying process and to catch falling seeds and leaves.
The third step is to choose a dry and warm spot in the house away from moisture and direct sunlight to place the bundled herbs. You then hang the herbs upside down to dry.
Lastly, to know if your herbs are ready, check if they are crispy. If they are the herbs are ready.
3. Outdoor Air Drying
The process is similar to the indoor air drying method though this one is done outside. The herbs are hung outside and protected from direct sunlight by panels. It’s not common as most people prefer indoor air drying as it’s in the comfort of their houses but outdoor herb drying is a way faster method and very efficient due to stray light from the sun.
4. Food Dehydrator
This a kitchen appliance that preserves food by removing the moisture content from the food. Quality food dehydrators have the drying herbs feature that can automatically control the temperature for drying. They also have multiple stacking trays that can accommodate a huge bundle of herbs over a short period. This is the best-automated method of drying herbs.
5. Oven Drying
Oven drying is an alternative to the food dehydrator. It requires temperatures of up to 100 degrees Celsius. This method involves placing the herbs on a cheesecloth that is then placed over a cooling rack wire to allow air circulation.
This method is labor-intensive as it requires one to turn the herbs frequently to evenly spread the heat on the sides of the herbs.
To know if the herbs are dry, they would become crispy.
6. Microwave Drying
Drying using a microwave is a good alternative to oven drying and food dehydrator. It may be quite a frustrating experience as it’s hard to get the right time required to dry the herbs.
To dry using the microwave, you first cut off the stems to have basically the leaves. Then, place the leaves between paper towel layers.
Secondly, you start the microwave for one minute continuous heating, then you alternate heating and resting for thirty seconds each for about ten minutes.
7. Refrigerator Drying
This is one of the easiest methods that only requires one to have enough space in the fridge to accommodate the herbs for long periods of time. The procedure is simple, just place the herbs in the fridge and leave them to dry with the temperature.
8. Quick Dry For Cooking
This is done about one hour or half an hour before cooking the herbs to allow adequate time for the herbs to dry. You select the herbs you want to cook and lay them on a clean towel to allow air circulation. You then wash the herbs gently to avoid crushing them and then lay them on the towel systematically to prevent overlapping and leave them on the towel to dry as the towel soaks in moisture from the herbs, thus, causing the herbs to dry.
9. Drying Using Desiccants
Common herb desiccants include; silica gel, orris root, cornmeal, and sand. They draw out moisture from the herbs, the most common being silica gel. You place the desiccant in a plastic or glass jar and spread it, you then place the herbs well apart from each other letting the desiccant go in between the parts of the herb and dry every part of the herb. You then remove the desiccant when the herbs are dried.
10. Drying In Place
Herbs can dry on their own when they are placed as part of a craft project or in a flower arrangement. This method is appropriate for herbs such as rosemary and yellow fennel. For this method, place the herbs in a drying vessel, such as a vase or bouquet, and ensure its dry of moisture. The herbs would gradually dry.
11. Dry Pressing
Pressing is also an easy method of drying. You simply place the herbs in the middle of a book or enclosing the herbs between two flat materials and, then, exert pressure. This method can be used to make framed prints, collages, scrapbooks, and bookmarks.
12. Partial Cooking
Herbs can be dried by partially cooking them with methods such as deep-frying them in oil. This prevents them from spoilage and also dries them for storage. The dried fried herbs can be crushed with pestle and mortar or dry fingers. The crushed herbs can then be placed in small airtight containers and stored. This method is not common as the herbs lose flavor faster and may spoil if not handled well.
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