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How To Dry Herbs

by Ruby Bayan

'Drying Herbs in Bundles' by Ruby Bayan Herbs are best used fresh, but if you're lazy to go up to the garden on the roof, when it's too cold outside, or you just love a well-stocked herb and spice rack, dried herbs are a good alternative. Besides, dried herbs have uses where fresh counterparts simply can't be considered.

Whether you harvest your herbs from your garden or the vegetable vendor, drying some for future use is always a good idea. Here's how:

  1. Gather the sorted stems and group them into small bunches.
  2. Tie the stalk end of each bunch with a string.
  3. Hang the tied bunches (leaves pointing downwards) in a warm well-ventilated place, away from direct sunlight.
  4. Space the bundles so that they can dry quickly and avoid getting musty.
  5. Some herbs dry in a week, some longer. They should be ready for storage when they become brittle to the touch.
'Drying Herbs' by Ruby Bayan

Once the herbs are dry, it's best to transfer them to sealed containers to protect them from dust and deterioration. Remember to label your containers.

Strip the dry leaves off the stems. You can keep the leaves whole, slightly crushed, or finely crushed, depending on your preference. Bay leaves are usually stored whole, because in cooking, most chefs prefer to drop whole leaves.

Store the herbs in a dark place if your containers are clear; light hastens the deterioration of the herb aroma and flavor. In any case, replace your dried herbs after a year.

Things to remember: 'Dried Herbs' by Ruby Bayan

  • Moisture will promote the growth of mildew on the drying herbs.
  • Drying quickly helps preserve color and flavor.
  • A pinch of dried herbs gives the same flavor and aroma as a small handful of fresh leaves.

Tips for drying:

  • Consult herb reference guides on the best time to harvest plants and flower stalks for drying.
  • If you're drying herbs that have seeds that might fall off in the drying process, wrap a paper bag around the bunches to catch the seeds. Cut several holes on the paper bag to allow air circulation.

Uses of dried herbs:

  • Seasoning and remedies during wintertime or when fresh herbs are not available
  • Herbal teas and baths
  • Potpourri, sachets, and moth bags
  • Wreaths and other projects

Some herbs that dry well:

  • Bay
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Santolina
  • Thyme

Some herbs that don't dry well (they lose their flavor):

  • Dill (use the seeds)
  • Fennel (use the seeds)
  • Chervil
  • Parsley
  • Basil

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