Drying Herbs

posted in: cooking, marissa | 0

I wish you had smell-o-vision.  I wish you could put your nose up to the speaker on your computer and smell the wonder that is fresh dried parsley.  Or cilantro, or basil.  It smells like this:

Parsley - ThreadedTogether.com

Okay, now, go to your cupboard and open your store-bought dried parsley.  Smell it.  That is not parsley.  That is a remnant of what was once probably poorly grown, harvested at the wrong time, stuck in the container forever before hitting the store shelf, parsley.  I never knew.  Did you?

The same goes for the “fresh” parsley you buy at the grocery store.  That is not parsley.  Have any in your fridge?  Go smell it too.  Yes, it actually has a distinguishable scent to it, but it still doesn’t come near to what you can get if you are growing it in your own backyard.  If you aren’t growing your own herbs, put your computer down now, go buy some plants and plant them!!!  My local garden store, McDonald’s Garden Center, just posted that their herbs are half price right now (originally 4.99 each, not 4 for $10).

Then come back here and read about using and drying them after!

It has always been a wonder to me why recipes call for parsley (just one of many examples, but go with me here).  I have always had an issue with parsley in particular.  My container of dried parsley smells like nothing to me.  This has been the case all my life.  The fresh stuff at the store was never much better.  I just did not understand what this was supposed to add to my meal.

I get it now. 

Mainly, I decided to grow parsley for that once a month meal I make that calls for a 1/4 cup of the herb chopped fresh.  But you know the story.  You have to buy it in this huge bunch and even if you try to make several parsley-containing recipes that week, you still throw most of the bunch away.  I knew if I planted it I would have just enough to use it for such occasions. 

Of course, the more you pick herbs, the more they grow.  I have to keep pruning them so they keep producing.  This has left me with an abundance of fresh herbs this year.  So it was time to start drying!  So far I have dried basil, cilantro, parsley, lemon balm, lavender, and tarragon.

The amount I pick each time only gives me between a couple teaspoons and a couple tablespoons of dried herbs.  But every couple of days I go out to pick more, and dry them again.  There are two methods to drying your own herbs that I know of. 

Air Drying:

Clip the stems of your herbs and tie a piece of twine around them.  Hang them upside down in a sunny area and wait several days for them to dry.  This can be difficult if it is humid where you live, but you can make sure they are near a fan or source of circulating air, and they should be fine.  Here is a great tutorial:

Dehydrator Drying:

Lay your herbs in a single layer on the dehydrator sheets, set between 95 and 115 degrees and dry several hours until they are free of moisture.  This will vary greatly between different herbs.  When the herbs crumble easily off their stems, they are ready.  Store in a air tight container and keep in a cool, dry, dark place like your pantry.

Drying Herbs - ThreadedTogether.com

This is the method I use.  When I was in the market for a dehydrator, Jennifer recommended I purchase the Excalibur model.  I knew I would be using it a lot for my garden harvesting, so I went with the super model.  It has 9 trays and a timer.  I would not want to get one without It is expensive (almost $300), but It is THE dehydrator.  I laughed out loud when it was delivered and I saw how huge it is.  I thought there was no way on earth I would put that size to use.  Holy cow, I use it every other day.  I regularly make my own beef jerky, dried herbs, almond flour (when I make almond milk), dried fruit, and more.  I am really looking forward to drying my peppers once they are ready to harvest.  Here’s what my beef jerky looks like:

Dehydrating Jerky - ThreadedTogether.com

So, do you have your herb plants in the ground now?  I hope so!  If not, what are you waiting for!?

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