Harvesting of herbs and flowers is an activity that can involve the whole family. In our previous post we looked at Harvesting Herbs and hang drying as one of the ways of preserving the herbs you harvest. Drying is the time-honored method of preserving most flowers and leaves. In this article we will explore a few more ways of drying herbs. Herbs to be used in cooking should be dried as whole as possible to retain flavor.
If you want to dry herbs in a hurry, spread the leaves on a cheese-cloth covered rack in the oven at its lowest temperature. Leave the oven door open and stir the leaves until they are crisp. They will be ready in a few minutes. You may also use the microwave to dry some herbs as it too is a quick effective way of drying herbs in an area where the humidity would make it difficult to air dry your herbs. Not all herbs take well to microwave drying but basil, oregano and rosemary do well, this process allows them to maintain their color and aroma. Separate the leaves from the stems, rinse and air dry. Place a single layer of leaves on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Lay another paper towel on top, and microwave on high for one minute. Watch the herbs continually during the drying process, and stop the oven if you smell the herbs burning. If needed, repeat the heating for 30 seconds at a time until the herbs are fully dry.
For small pieces of herbs, short stems and seed heads drying trays are handy. Let the leaves stay on stems or strip them off. Make one layer in each tray. Stir the contents gently every few days to assure even drying. Most herbs dry crisp within a week or 10 days according to the weather. Remove from the tray when crisp.
Dry the seed heads the same way then gently rub the capsules through your hands. A fan on low-speed or a natural breeze will blow away the chaff as you drop seed into the tray or bowl. Up coming post on making your own drying tray soon.