Herbs magically transform any bland meal into an extraordinary and exotic culinary delight. Add to this the various medicinal properties of herbs, such as protecting against different heart diseases, depression, anxiety and cancer, and you surely have a delicacy worth indulging in. However, not all herbs are available throughout the year and also they do not stay fresh all year round. Hence, it becomes extremely important to store the herbs, in order to retain their freshness and medicinal property. The best way to store herbs for a longer duration is to dry them at home. These fresh dried herbs are not only less expensive than their commercial counterparts, but they also retain the original flavor and color for a prolonged duration. Listed below are different ways to dry herbs. Choose the best method and proceed further with drying and preserving fresh herbs. Read on to know them.
Methods For Drying Herbs
Air drying is the easiest and least expensive method for drying herbs and preserving them. Pick up the herbs and remove any dead or withered leaves. Tie the leaves in small bunches by their stems and blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds. Shake off any excess water and dry them on a tea towel or kitchen roll. Wrap in muslin cloth and hang the leaves in a warm place such as over a cooker or in an airing cupboard for the leaves to dry. With enough airing, the herbs may dry up in a few hours. In case the airing is less, it may take 3 to 4 days for complete drying. You can try drying mint, bay and basil, using this method.
In case you are drying large-leaved herbs such as mint or sage, remove the leaves from their stalks. In case of small leaved herbs, you can dry them in their sprigs. Separate any dead or withered leaves. Tie the leaves in muslin and blanch them in boiling water for a minute. In case you are drying the herb with the stalks, blanch the entire sprigs of leaves. Shake off the excess water and spread the leaves or the sprigs on a tray. Place them in the oven at a temperature between 45°C and 55°C. Turn the herbs over halfway through to ensure even drying. The herbs will dry and turn crisp if the drying process continues for an hour. Discard the stalks and crush the leaves with a rolling pin.
Place a layer of herbs on two sheets of absorbent kitchen rolls. Cover the herbs with another layer of paper towel. Microwave the herbs on high for a minute. Thereafter, change the position of the leaves every 30 seconds and provide heat, until they are done. Make sure you check after every 30 seconds to ensure the drying of the herbs. The entire drying process would not take more than three minutes. Basil, mint, oregano, rosemary, tarragon and thyme are some herbs that are dried using this method.
Using an electric dehydrator is another method to dry herbs in a fast, easy and effective way. For this, you need to preheat a dehydrator between 95°F and 115°F. Place the herbs on the dehydrator tray in a single layer and dry them in the dehydrator. This might take a couple of hours. Usually a time period of one to four hours is sufficient for drying the herbs in this process. Check the herbs periodically and turn them over for even drying on all sides.
Transfer the herbs into a large brown paper bag. Fold the top of the paper bag and secure it with a staple pin. Place the bag in one of the shelves of the refrigerator. Do not place them in the vegetable or fruit bin. The herbs will take about few weeks to dry through this method. However, check the herbs on a weekly basis to check the progress of the drying process. Herbs like basil, dill, mint, rosemary and tarragon dry well through this method. Store the herbs in an airtight container, once they have completely dried.