Author: Veronica Hilliard
I’m not a very patient person. I want things done now and done right. I also got fresh herbs in my Bountiful Baskets Italian Pack add-on. I’ve thrown away too many veggies and wilted herbs that I’ve started looking closely at my basket when I get it home and trying to process everything in a way that it will get used and not wasted. About a month ago we got two HUGE heads of bok choi in our basket and I chopped one of them up and threw it in the freezer for adding to soups, stews, and stir fries later on. These are things that I normally wouldn’t buy for my own recipes, but have been excited to learn how to use when I get surprised with them. So add all this together and it equals…
I need to dry my herbs.
I’m not a big fan of many herbs. I’ve never been fond of thyme or rosemary. I haven’t been able to eat sage since I lived in Idaho and smelled sage brush everywhere. I do LOVE me some fresh basil and I like the flavor of oregano. But, I got fresh thyme and rosemary in my basket (along with basil) so I’ll be a sport and use it. I just highly doubt I’ll use it before it goes bad. And because I’m impatient, I just popped it in the oven to dry.
Set your oven as low as it goes. Mine stops at 170 degrees F. I wish it would go lower for delicate herbs like basil, but it won’t. My toaster oven does though. I did my basil separately in there. A word of caution… I wouldn’t do this in the oven if it doesn’t go lower than 175 degrees F. And probably try another method on your delicate herbs. They will turn all brown and possibly start to cook or start to burn at anything higher than 125 degrees F or so. Watch closely because things can escalate quickly and you’ll end up smoking out the bad spirits with burning sage instead of sprinkling it over your chicken.
After about 10-15 minutes…
I separated the leaves from the stems and put them back in for a little longer just to make sure they were dry all the way. If they aren’t completely dry when you pack them up they will mold and get nasty before you can use them. Make absolutely sure they are dry, but don’t let them go for too long or they’ll start to burn a bit and the taste will suffer.
When you know your herbs are dry, you can store them as you like. Crunch them up with your hands or a mortar and pestle, combine them into an herb blend, or just leave them as is. I like to store mine in re-purposed, BPA-free glass jars. These jars come from MW Polar Brand fruit. To be honest, I bought them just for the jars! My kids think they’re an extra special treat. They are also inexpensive. I always find them around a dollar each.
Other ways that you can dry herbs/herbal teas include:
- Microwaving them – Good for delicate herbs such as mint or basil. Place leaves between two pieces of paper towel and microwave for 10 seconds at a time until dry. This is the shortest method but some people question the safety of microwaving food.
- Placing leaves in a dehumidifier – If you have a dehumidifier, it’d be a great way to speed things up. Not as fast as the microwave but faster than waiting days or weeks.
- Remove leaves, chop, and put on clean, dry cotton towels – This takes a couple of days but preserves the flavor and color better than other methods.
- Tie in a bunch and hang upside-down in a dry area – This method takes the longest but preserves the flavor and color best.
Fresh or dried, herbs are good to add to your diet. They make food a little more fun, add fragrance and flavor. You can feel like a real chef when you’re serving your family and friends thyme-speckled lamb and a beautiful caprese salad with a sprinkle of fragrant basil.
1 T of dry herbs equals 3 T of fresh.
Have you dried your own herbs? What is your favorite method?