My dear friend Sandy, from Soroptimist, kindly leant me her dehydrator in exchange for a jar of strawberry-rhubarb jam. Quite delighted at the prospect, but fall apples aren’t out for another two weeks or so. Instead I harvested my herbs: flat leave parsley, basil, chives, mint, spearmint and rosemary.
The book she leant me does not recommend sun drying as they will loose the aroma and colour. They also don’t recommend drying herbs with any kind of fruit or vegetable because their moisture and higher heats will affect the drying time. They recommend 100F (or 35C) for 2-3 hours.
Oven drying is tricky if yours doesn’t go down that far, again you need 100F. Bag drying is easiest:
- Rinse the terms and remove any dead or discoloured ones.
- Tie them in bunches at the bottom of the stems.
- Place the herbs leaf-ends first in a paper bag, which has several holes cut in each side for air circulation.
- Tie a string firmly around the top of the bag and the stems of the herbs.
- Hang the bag in a warm place for 5-10 days, or until the herbs are dry. Note that leaves that are not completely dry will mold during storage.
At this point they should crumble easily. Roll the bag gently between your hands so all the leaves will crumble from the stems. Store in a cool, dark place to prevent fading and hold the flavour. Do not store near the stove.
Whole spices have the longest shelf life – 6 to 12 months. Crush just before using for the fullest flavour.