One of my favourite things to do in the fall is to capture the essence and flavour of summer and use it in my cooking all year long as well as saving a lot of money on those tiny expensive spice jars you find at the grocery store. Thankfully due to the good weather we have had this year we have grown an abundance of parsley, thyme, basil and rosemary; some of my favourite herbs that I use daily in all my recipes.
There are three very basic ways to dry herbs that I have used in the past but my favourite and quickest is oven drying them.
I typically harvest in the morning and pick stems that haven’t flowered yet; they contain the highest content of oil; it is the high oil content that when picked and dried captures the maximum aroma making them 3 to 4 times stronger over using fresh herbs in recipes.
Pick vibrant green stems and leaves and discard any that are older, discoloured and those that have been chewed up by animals.
Carefully wash the herbs insuring all the dirt has been washed away.
Either lay flat to dry on paper towel/pat dry or hang upside down until they are free of any moisture.
Layer them on baking sheet in a single layer and set your oven to the lowest temperature on your oven and let dry insuring you turn them every once in a while so they’re well dried on both side; insuring they are 100% dry or they will get moldy. They will shrivel down and when they are all completely dry let them cool. This will take a few hours; typically 3 to 4 and find this is the quickest method to get the job done.
I typically prepare enough to place air tight spice jars for immediate use breaking them down with a mortar and pestle to break them down into flakes.
The balance I place in zip lock bags and leave them intact and use them straight out of the bag and crush them by hand over my dishes.
Alternative drying methods:
1. Using a food dehydrator following the same rules will yield you an abundance of spices but can take anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to dry thoroughly. Food Dehydrators are a wonderful product to have on hand for drying herbs, beef jerky, vegetables, fruits and so much more. Learn more about food dehydrators at Top 5 Best Food Dehydrators for your Family.
2. Tie herbs in bunches and hang to dry inside brown paper bags. Insure you cut ventilation holes in the bags; this will prevent the herbs from getting moldy and dusty; hang to dry away from sun light (sun light will degrade and break down the oils in the herbs causing them to lose their rich flavour. This method takes about 2 to 4 weeks depending on the temperature in your home. Ideal home temperature for drying herbs is 70 to 80 degree Fahrenheit. Once fully dried they can be stored in air tight jars and zip lock bags.