Organic Food and Beverages
Buy Organics: Where and How?
How to Dry Herbs?
After Harvesting Herbs, You Need to Preserve Them
(or Use Them Immediately)
How to dry herbs? How to harvest herbs? Drying as a preservation technique is useful when harvesting herbs. Part of the drying process involves packaging and labeling (and using correct herb identification).
Always try to buy and/or grow your herbs organically; the real health benefit of herbs and other garden produce is maintained with organic growing and harvesting processes.
If you have a bunch of fresh organic herbs, garden herbs, or indoor herb plants, you may be wondering how to dry herbs after harvesting them.
Drying is a good way to preserve herbs; whether youre using them for health or culinary purposes.
If you're growing your herbs, dehydration offers the benefit of harvesting the plant when the oils are rich so you get even greater flavor.
How to Dry Herbs? Getting Started
A pair of scissors is a great helper whether you're buying fresh organic herbs or harvesting them. They help you get just the parts you want and discard stems etc. easily. A few other handy tools include paper towels, food storage containers, ice cube trays, labels, cookie trays (for oven drying) and / or a dehydrator.
Note that if youre harvesting wild herbs, it's very important to use an herb identification guide. You need to know what herbs you are harvesting; one green leafy thing can look a lot like another one (and some are not good for you).
How to Harvest Herbs?
Harvesting fresh organic herbs and drying them immediately is the first step in to how to dry herbs. Harvesting herbs early in the day will ensure that the herb oils (and flavor) will be more concentrated. Herb blossoms should be gathered just before they open.
Next, rinse off the plants and make sure they are free of dirt and debris. Do not use any parts that have mold, brown parts, or that look wilted. Dry very thoroughly on paper towels or with clean cotton cloth towels.
If you want some fresh organic herbs for cooking over the next couple of days, put these herbs in clear plastic storage bags, in the refrigerator, clearly labeled and make sure you squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible.
The leaves from various herbs can also be successfully dried whole. Otherwise, let the plants dry off before you move them to the oven or dehydrator. While some people hang herbs to dry, this requires a regulated environment in terms of heat and humidity. It's much safer to dry herbs in the oven or to use a commercial drying system.
How to Dry Herbs?
Low and slow is the way to go! Put your herbs on a cookie sheet. Make sure the plants arent touching. Only put ONE type of herb on a sheet at a time (to keep the flavors separate and also to help you with herb identification). Also, different herbs dry at different rates, and you dont want to mix things up.
If you're using a dehydrator, you need to spread the herbs out so the parts are not touching. Air circulation is the key to drying. The manufacturers book should tell you about the best setting on your system for the herbs. Make sure you put ONE herb on each level of the dehydrator and develop a system by which you can recognize each layer.
If you're using your oven (at low temperatures such as 200 degree fahrenheit) To ensure continual air circulation in the oven, put something like a potholder in the top of the door of the oven to prop it open and allow air to circulate. You MUST be careful, even at low temperatures, with this step - there is always a risk of fire if left unattended. This step is not necessary if you have a convection oven which circulates the heated air by fan inside the oven).
When the organic herb easily crumbles, its ready for packaging and storage. You may want to get a food processor or spice grinder (coffee grinders work well too but be sure to thoroughly clean the grinder first so that the coffee flavor doesn't remain to 'contaminate' the herb flavor) to process into organic powders (or flakes) for consistency. (Note: I also simply crumble the dried organic leaves in my hand for a 'chunkier', larger flake.)
When youre done with drying, put the herbs in small, air tight containers that are clearly labeled and stored out of sunlight and in a cool place for longevity.
Drying herbs organically is easy: you do not need to use any preservatives or additives. Simply pick the herbs, use one of the drying processes above (oven or dehydrator), clearly label and pack and store.