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How to Dry Herbs

How to dry Herbs: The days are getting colder, and the first day of fall was this week. It will soon be time to put the gardens to bed before the snow flies. However, before I can tuck them in for the winter, I am busy picking the last of the summer bounty. Today I picked, tomatoes for a final batch of tomato sauce, and a big basket of herbs for drying.  

My mom would pick big bunches of herbs, tie them together at their base, and hang them in a warm, dry place. Several weeks later, they would be dried and ready for storage. This method works great if you have a lot of herbs to dry and a space to hang them. If you want to try this method, the room you dry them in should be at least 50 degrees.  

Dry herbs in the oven:    Drying herbs in an oven requires the temperature to be 180 degrees or less. Unfortunately, most ovens don’t go below 200 degrees. If you are fortunate enough to have a “cool” oven you can dry fresh herbs spread on parchment paper. Place the parchment paper on a cookie sheet and lay the herbs on the parchment paper. Place the sheets of herbs in the 180-degree oven and bake for 2 to 4 hours or until the herbs are crispy and dry. 

Dry herbs in the microwave: Yes you can dry herbs in the microwave. I’ll be honest. I don’t like the thought of radiating my herbs. However, I hear that the microwave does a good job of drying herbs. If you want to give it a try, place no more than 4 or 5 stems of herbs between two paper towels and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Check herbs to see if they are dry and brittle. If they aren’t dry and brittle microwave for another 30 seconds. For herbs with large leaves like basil and sage, microwave 4 or 5 leaves between 2 paper towels until leaves are dry and brittle – about 3 minutes

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food dehydrator
food dehydrator
Fresh herbs
Fresh Picked Herbs
herbs on dehydrator tray
Fresh Herbs on drying trays
dries herbs
Dried herbs on drying trays

Dry Herbs in a food dehydrator: There are several great food dehydrators available. I like the one pictured above because it does a great job of drying fruits or vegetables. It has stacking trays that can be expanded from 1 to 13 trays. It comes with 5 trays. A solid silicone liner can be added to a tray to adapt it for drying fruit puree for fruit rollups. A grandkid favorite. It also has a fine mesh liner for drying small pieces of fruits, vegetables, or herbs. Lastly, the temperature can be adjusted. The most important feature as per Farmer Fred is the price. About $50.  You can check it out here. 

How to

  1. Pick the herbs during the later part of the day. They should be dry when you pick them. I don’t wash the herbs before drying. If you wash your herbs, pat them dry before putting them in the dehydrator. 
  2. Pick off and discard any leaves that aren’t healthy. 
  3. Discard the stems before drying herbs with large leaves, like basil and sage.
  4. Herbs with lots of small leaves are dried with the leaves still on the stems. When the whole stem is dried until the leaves are brittle, the leaves will easily crumble from the stem with gentle pressure. 
  5. Store the dry herbs in a container with an airtight lid. A small glass mason jelly jar with a lid works great. 

 What are you going to do with your herbs after they are all dried.? Enjoy them in all your recipes that call for herbs!!!  How about adding them to my homemade pasta sauce

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Dried Herbs in jars

BONUS: How To Freeze Fresh Herbs.

To freeze fresh herbs: Remove the leaves from the stems and put them in a ziplock bag. Put the bag in the freezer. That’s it! When your recipe calls for fresh herbs, remove what you need and put the rest back in the freezer. Don’t let the herbs thaw before you need them for a recipe as they will turn soft and stick together in a big mass. The frozen herbs are best in a recipe where the herbs will be cooked. For example, marinara sauce.


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