How to go about drying herbs for storing is a question asked by many new to urban gardening, because herbs are usually the first plants that they try their hand at growing. This is because the growing of herbs fits so well into our urban lifestyles, as they can be grown indoors or out.
So today, we are going to look at an article by Janet H. Sanchez that we found over at Horticulture, which gives us the A-Z’s on drying herbs for storing.
Urban Gardening: Drying Herbs For Storing
Harvesting – While herbs can be dried at any stage of development, their volatile oils, which give them their flavor, are most concentrated when the plants are forming flowers. For the best flavor, harvest in the morning, when the oils are concentrated in the leaves. Use scissors or sharp pruning shears to cut the stems cleanly, rather than breaking or pulling them.
Sorting and Cleaning – Pick through your harvest and discard any leaves that are yellowed or damaged. Wash any that are dusty by filling a bucket with clean tap water and swishing them around gently in it. Shake off the water and pat them dry with towels or whirl them in a salad spinner.
Bunching and Drying – Keep your bunches small —about a half-dozen to a dozen stems— so that air can circulate easily around the stems. Tie the bunches together with rubber bands and hang them … To retain their maximum flavor and color, dry your herbs in a dark and airy location … Herbs with large, relatively thick leaves, such as sage, will dry faster with less chance of spoiling if you remove the leaves from the stems and lay them in a single layer on a piece of elevated window screening.
Stripping – Drying time can vary from a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the type of herb, air circulation, and the weather. Check your herbs every day or two. When the leaves feel crisp and crumble easily, they are ready for storage. Strip the leaves into a bowl or paper bag. Try to keep them whole so that they retain the most flavor.
Storing – Place the leaves in glass jars with tight-fitting lids. If you have a large quantity of any one herb, put it in several smaller jars rather then one large one, since the leaves in unopened jars will retain flavor longer … herbs will retain their flavor and color longer if stored away from heat and light … Check the jars after a few days to see if any moisture has condensed on the inner surface. If this happens, remove the herbs and spread them out on a rack or tray to dry further. Most dried herbs will retain their volatile oils for about a year.
It seems that not only are herbs fairly easy to grow, but that drying herbs for storing is a fairly simple process as well.
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Photo by Warren Layton
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