Drying Herbs From Your Own Garden ~ 9/12/07
Enjoy the ease and availability of dried herbs from your own garden all year round.
If you live in a climate where it can get very cold in winter, and many herbs die out because they are tender annuals, or the perennial herbs get frosted and turn black, it could be useful to dry some of your favourite culinary herbs and also some medicinal herbs, to be able to use them, when these herbs are not available in your garden.
How To Dry Herbs
Pick herbs before they go to flower and seed, as the herbs will be highest in their essential oil before flowering. It is this essential oil that gives the herbs aroma and flavour, so this is what you will want to get the most of, in the dried product.
After the sun has dried the dew on the leaves, is a good time of the day to pick herbs.
Don't plan to cut herbs for drying if rain is forecasted, or if the day is humid, as there will be a lot of moisture in the air.
Trim the bush by taking 15 to 30cm cuttings (of course this will depend on the size of the bush and the type of herb too). Cutting herbs for drying is a good way to prune perennial herbs, it is like giving them a good hair cut!
Various ways of drying herbs can be used. An electric dehydrator will dry the leaves evenly and quickly.
Or if you have a well ventilated verandah or covered patio the herbs can be tied in small bunches and hung from a strong string or clothes line to dry.
Alternatively, leaves can be striped off the stems and spread out on trays or in boxes to dry either in shade, or alternatively in sun for 1-2 days so the majority of moisture is quickly removed, and then the herbs can be finish drying in the shade.
When leaves are crispy dry and crumble easily between the fingers, they are ready to store, and you will then have them ready for use in the kitchen for when there is none to pick in the garden. Store the dried herbs in glass jars, zip seal bags or other containers with lids. Label the container with name of herbs and the date dried.
Dried herbs will retain more flavour if you store the leaves whole, and then just crush them before you wish to use.
Store the dried herbs in a cool, dry, dark place, away from sunlight.
When you wish to start using the dried herbs, use about 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh leaves.