In just 2 months since Christmas, I have a bountiful harvest of herbs. The gift that keeps on giving – my AeroGarden. I’ve watched and watered and now it’s time to take all these tasty herbaceous gems and store them for future use. After setting up my indoor herb garden, with all it’s high tech features (WiFi connectivity with my home network), I get notified when it needs water and plant food. I’ve been diligent about responding to those messages. Now I have a blooming tower of herbs.
Today is pruning day. In just a few simple steps, I have a batch of dried, organic herbs – made from non-GMO seeds and grown hydroponically. I have been using the herbs over the time in various recipes but I can’t possibly use enough to keep this garden from overgrowing. So it’s time to dry these herbs. Because my herbs are grown indoors, without soil or exposed to the elements, I don’t wash them before drying. Here’s all you have to do to dry fresh herbs.
- If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can dry most herbs but simply exposing them to warm, dry air. Tie tender-leaf herbs (basil, oregano tarragon, lemon balm and mints) in small groups to prevent moldiness. Hang the bundle inside a paper bag with holes punched in the side for ventilation. Close the end of the bag with a rubber band. Allow the bag to hang in a ventilated area where there is air circulation. For heartier herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley) Tie them in bundles and hang them upside down until they are air dry. Drying in direct sunlight is not recommended.
- When the leaves fall off, the herbs are dry enough to pack in glass containers and store in a cool, dry area.
- Using a dehydrator is the fastest and easiest method to drying herbs. Preheat the dehydrator with the thermostat set to 95⁰ F to 115⁰ F (check your manufacturer’s specific guidelines). My dehydrator has a setting for drying herbs at 95⁰ F. In areas that have more humidity, a higher temperature may be required.
- Place the cut leaves of the herbs on the dehydrator trays, allowing room for air circulation.
- Continue adding the cut leaves to the dehydrator trays. Various herbs can be dried together. Use a different try for each so they can be stored separately when dried.
- Stack trays in the dehydrator and cover with the lid.
- Allow to dry for 2-3 hours.
- Place dried herbs in a glass jar and store in a cool, dry place. Label each container with the appropriate herb.
When using dried herbs in recipes, remember that the flavor is usually 3 – 4 times stronger than fresh herbs. To substitute dried herbs in a recipe, use a quarter to a third less than the amount listed in the recipe.