to Dry Herbs
If you grow and
dry your own herbs, you will always have a fresh, inexpensive supply
at hand for making delicious foods. For people on salt-free diets,
enhance the flavor of otherwise bland foods and do not add calories to
foods. If you want to cut down on salt or calories, you can use herbs
spices to give zest to familiar, low-calorie or low-salt foods.
You can grow in
garden or in the pot a wide variety of herbs. If you plant your herb
near the kitchen, you can enjoy the plants and harvest the leaves
as they reach the peak of quality. Some that are especially popular are
basil, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, mint, sage, sweet
marjoram, savory, oregano, chervil, chives, and dill.
It is good to harvest
young tender leaves, because they are more flavorful and aromatic than
older leaves. Remove any dead or discolored leaves, rinse with cold
to wash off dust and dirt and
drain well on paper towels.
For herbs with long
stems the best method is to cut the stalks, tie them together in small
bunches and hang upside down in a warm, dry, airy place, but not in the
sun. Allow 5 to 10 days to dry.
It is good
tie a large brown paper bag around the bunch to protect the herbs from
the light. Be sure the leaves do not touch the sides o the bag,
they may stick to
the bag and not dry properly. Make several holes in the
bag for ventilation. Hang it in a warm, dry, airy room or attic. Herbs
will dry in about 1 to 2 weeks.
stems and seeds could be dry on trays or cookie sheets. Spread seeds or
leaves in a single layer on a tray or cookie sheet. Dry in a warm, airy
place 4 to 6 days or dry in your oven on temperature of 140° F for
about 1 to 4 hours. Turn or stir the leaves occasionally to assure even
Herbs can also be
dried in a microwave because the leaves contain little moisture and dry
rapidly. Place a single layer of herb leaves between paper towels. Dry
them for 1 to 2 minutes on a medium setting in the microwave, depending
on the thickness of the leaves. Cool and test for brittleness. When the
herb leaves crumble in your hands, they are done. If leaves are not
microwave them for 30 seconds to 1 minute longer.
Store dry herbs in
smallairtight containers away from the light. If stored in a cool, dry,
dark place, whole dried herbs retain their flavor and aroma up to one
sun dry herbs because sunlight destroys their natural aroma. It is
to know that whole herbs keep their flavor longer than crushed or
To release the full
flavor from the dried herbs crush the lives into fine bits before
to food. You can crush the leaves by rubbing them between your palms or
by grinding them with a mortar and pestle. Use 1/4 as much dried herbs
as you would fresh. Never use old herbs. If you aren't sure an herb is
fresh, rub a bit of it between your palms and breathe in the aroma. If
there is little or no aroma, replace the herb with a fresh supply.
|Did You Know?
pinch of rosemary dropped into the water that potatoes or rice are
in will give a delightful taste to these vegetables.
* * *
When certain roots (as garlic
or ginger) are to be processed into pastes or powders, it may be
necessary to soak the root in water for a night. This so that the peel
of the root may release. After this process, the root may be chopped up
and purated immediately into a paste (no drying is necessary then). To
make powder however, drying is still required before the root is ground.
* * *
Harvesting of herbs for drying
should be at the peak time, when the compounds are in their highest
concentration. This moment in time is different for each plant. Picking
is done at days without rain or dew (to prevent the formation of mold.
Plants are preferably chosen which have had a good spot for growing,
suitable for their requirements (this usually means a well-lit area).
Leaves and roots should be collected before noon, flowers should be
collected in the morning.