Drying

Herbs need to be dried as quickly as possible in order to preserve their flavour and colour. However drying them in direct sunlight will damage them.

There are 3 main ways to dry herbs:

  1. The simplest and most traditional way of drying herbs is to pick them with fairly long stems, bundle these together and hang the bunches upside down in a warm and dark place to dry. Ideal places are airing cupboards, attics and cellars. You will know when the herbs are completely dry as they will rustle when touched. This should take about 23 days. When dried out, the leaves should be removed from the stalks and stored in a in screw top container until needed. Store containers in a cool dark place. Do not crumble the leaves until you are ready to use them as this will help to further preserve their flavour.
  2. Another way to dry herbs is in the oven. Heat the oven on its lowest setting and place the herbs inside to dry. Setting the oven to its lowest temperature is essential as if the oven is too hot the herbs' etheric oils will evaporate. Turn them occasionally to ensure they are thoroughly dry and check the leaves regularly to make sure they do not burn. Store as before.
  3. An even quicker way to dry herbs is in the microwave. Strip the leaves from the stems and place them in a single layer on a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper. Cook on high for I minute, then turn the leaves over and cook for another 1-1.5 minutes until they are completely dry.

It is always advisable to label and date dried herbs as they can look quite different from the growing plants.

If possible, do not keep herbs for longer than one year, that is from one harvest to the next.

Drying herb flowers:

If you want to dry herb flowers, pick them carefully to avoid damaging the petals. Choose flowers with long stems and tie them together in bunches. Hang them upside down in a warm, dry place as before. If the flowers do not have long stems, place the flowers carefully on a wire cooling rack so that the air can circulate around them, and leave in a warm, dry place.

Drying herb seeds:

Cut the seed heads from the plant just as they begin to turn brown. Place the seedheads in a large paper bag and leave to dry in a warm room. As the seeds dry, they will fall out of the seedhead to the bottom of the paper bag. Store the seeds in glass jars out of direct sunlight.

Did you know? Coriander leaf is the world's most popular herb.

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Herbs 101

Herbs 101

Learn what you can do with herbs! How to Plant, Grow, and Cook with Natural Herbs. Have you always wanted an herb garden but didn't know how to get started? Do you want to know more about growing your own herbs in the privacy of your home and using them in a variety of cooking?

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