Drying Herbs

Sweet Basil, I grew this year!

Drying herbs is the only way you can use them all year round since most of the herbs are not available in winter season. Herbs like oregano, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme and tarragon etc. have a wide culinary used and if you dry these at the right time you will have your supply of herbs all year round.

Drying herbs is technical but not very difficult. You just have to do everything at the right time to dry the herbs perfectly. You have to make sure that you pick the herbs when they are at the peak in terms of their flavor. This will preserve their flavor and color to the maximum. Take a walk in your garden and when you feel the heaviest fragrance of the herbs in the air that is the right time to pick them.

In general you should choose a sunny day for picking herbs at about mid morning so that the dew has dried off, preferably not after a rainy day so that the leaves of the herbs are dry. Different rules apply to the picking of different herbs. Mints are picked just before flowering, rosemary is the easiest to harvest and can be picked at any time. Oregano and thyme should be harvested when the flowers have just opened. Basil should be picked before the flowers blossom.  The time required to dry herbs depends upon the thickness of the seed head and the water holding capacity of the leaf.

To begin the drying process, wash the herbs and pick out any rotten or dry leaves. Place on a towel or a drier to dry. Make sure that the leaves are completely dry otherwise it will interfere with the herb drying process by causing mildew. Now take about 15 to 20 stems of the herb and tie them up near the stem ends. You have to hang the herbs and let them dry.

For drying herbs you should arrange a place or a room that is dry, warm, dark but well ventilated. The ideal temperature for drying herbs is around 20oCentigrade. It is also recommended that the space you choose for herb drying is not used for other purposes because it can spoil the flavor of the herbs.

It can take the herb leaves from about one to three weeks for drying depending upon the types of herb. You should keep on checking from time to time and when the herbs are completely dry you can store them in airtight containers.

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