How often do you throw away spoiled herbs? We all tend to get over excited in the supermarket buying too much and then later throwing most away? Now that the chilly months are here and our herb garden at the TLC-Test Kitchen is looking sparse, we are so glad we dried our herbs when they were in abundance in the summer.
When herbs are dried, they are safe from bacteria, mould and yeast, and will remain potent for at least six to 12 months. To remove moisture, all you need is air circulation. Some warmth can also help.
It’s easy to dry your own, ensuring that you always have the herbs you need in your pantry.
Follow this easy method:
- Washing herbs usually isn’t necessary if they are grown organically. Harvest herbs in mid-morning before newly developed essential oils have been burned off by the sun, but after the dew has dried. Remove old, dead, diseased or wilted leaves.
- When you harvest herbs for their seeds, the seed heads should be turning brown and hardening, but not yet ready to shatter. To harvest herbs for their flowers?—?such as chamomile flowers or thyme spikes?—?snip flower buds off the plants close to the first day the buds open.
- Indoor Air Drying Herbs. Tie stems in bundles and hang the herbs upside down. Use twist-ties so you can easily tighten the bundles when stems shrink as they dry. A warm, dry spot is best; avoid the kitchen. Wrap muslin, a mesh produce bag or a paper bag with several holes around the bundle, and tie it at the neck.
- A drying screen helps dry leaves or sprigs. Make your own from an old window screen or hardware cloth mesh stapled to scrap wood or a picture frame. Lay cheesecloth over the screen, and place herbs on the cloth. Herbs can take a few hours to several days to dry fully.
- Solar Drying Herbs.This method is easy if you live in a warm, dry place.
- Use the sun’s heat to dry herbs, but don’t expose herbs to too much direct sunlight as this could cause them to bleach. Solar drying can be as low-tech as placing drying screens outside until your herbs are brittle (bring them in at night). You can also dry herbs under the windshield or rear window of your car on a hot day.
Your own dried herbs will taste better than store-bought because they’ll be newer and thus more pungent. If you grow your own herbs, you can also choose the tastiest varieties.
Give it a try and if you have any questions you can email the TLC-Chef at firstname.lastname@example.org