Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Herb Drying Time

My house is smelling fragrant and summery.  It's been herb drying time.

I have quite an extensive herb collection now, and in this warm weather they are all going rampant.  The easiest way to keep them for winter use is to dry them.  Most herbs respond really well to this treatment with the exception of basil, which just smells like damp mouldy stuff when dried and is no good for use.

  • Pick your herbs in the late evening or midmorning, when it is not too hot, and there is no dew on them.   I picked - French Tarragon, with its lovely aniseed flavour that goes so nicely with chicken dishes - Marjoram and Sage.
  • Hang in bunches leaves hanging down, till they are dry and crunchy.  You don't need to have them in the sun, a hot shady place will do such as in under a veranda.  I have some just hanging in my kitchen.
  •  Or if you have a dehydrator, as I do, then you layer them in the machine, and follow the heat instructions.  I usually put them on about 50C for 6hrs or so.  Again process till crunchy.
  • Or you can put them in the oven, on a low heat, the door slightly ajar.
  • Once they are dry, strip them off the stalks and keep in bags or jars, well labelled so that when the time comes you will know what is what.
  • Go crazy!  while the garden is going crazy, you can too.  Dry every herb in sight, for most of them will die down for the winter.
  • The leftover stalks can be used to make skewers of roast potatoes, for flavouring soups and stews or even for throwing into a bath.