How to Dry Herbs for Better Medicinal Effects


How to Dry Herbs for Better Medicinal Effects.

Whether you are preserving some of your garden’s aromatic abundance, or simply don’t want to waste the rest of that bunch of sage you bought and only used a few leaves off, drying is one of the best ways to preserve most (but not all) herbs.

Home-dried herbs have richer colors, scents, and tastes than even the best-store brands.

It is the essential oils in most herbs that give them both their aroma and their taste a scentless culinary herb is going to be flavorless as well.

Because these oils are very volatile and evaporate easily, the best results come from drying the herbs quickly but with minimal exposure to light and heat.

I find the best way to do this is to simply dry them at room temperature, with a brief finishing in a very low oven only if necessary.

It is possible to dry herbs in a dehydrator, but I find the results less flavorful.

Leafy herbs can be dried by using a rubber band to hold 8 to 10 sprigs together.

Don’t get all artsy and tie them up with raffia or yarn:

The stems will shrink as they dry and fall out of such quaint ties.

Stick to rubber bands.

Hang the bundles of herbs somewhere away from direct heat or light.

After a week, the herbs should be dry enough to crumble easily off the stems when crushed.

In very humid environments, you may need to finish them in the oven.

To do this, put herbs that have already dried for a week in your oven on its lowest temperature setting for no longer than 5 minutes.

Let them cool at room temperature for an additional 5 minutes before transferring them to jars.

Do not leave them out any longer than this or they will reabsorb moisture from the air.

Non-leafy herbs including flowers, roots, seeds, and barks can be dried in paper or cloth bags, or a single layer between two finely meshed window screens laid on top of each other horizontally.

They can be finished with the same quick oven treatment described above.

There are a few leafy herbs that lose so much of their flavor when dried that they should be preserved by other methods.

Herbs that do not dry well include chives, parsley, basil, chervil, and cilantro (coriander leaves).

These herbs can be preserved as salts, butter, oils, or vinegar.

Dried leafy herbs and flowers will keep for 1 year, after which they lose most of their flavor.

Roots, barks, and seeds will keep for considerably longer if left whole or in large pieces, but also only for a year if they are already finely ground when stored.


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