Saturday, July 17, 2010

Drying Herbs

Chocolate Mint in Pot

Cuttings of Mint

Mint Leaves before drying

Mint leaves drying

Dried Mint in Jar
I found a great way to dry herbs. I have used some other methods, in a paper bag inside a very hot car for 2-3 days (it works). I have used a dehydrator ( it works also). This new method is the way I am going to dry herbs from now on. The found this method in The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader, published by Storey Books.
Drying Herbs in the Microwave
Microwave-dried herbs are labor-intensive, but the drying takes less time overall. Make sure you start with clean herbs. If necessary, rinse them until clean and pat them dry with a paper towel. Just use the leaves from the stem. Work in small batches. First, layer several thicknesses of paper towels on the microwave tray. Then spread the leaves in a single layer. Heat on high for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on your oven. Rotate if you do not have a tray that rotates. Repeat microwaving for short times 30 seconds or so, checking the dryness. Ovens vary, be careful and don't over do it. Test by removing leaves and left them cook completely to see whether they are brittle. When they are, cook the entire batch on the wire rack and store them in dark airtight containers. Check the container the next day to make certain they are moisture free. Store your herbs up to one year.
My microwave takes 2 1/2 minutes to dry the mint.
I found that basil is more delicate, and takes less time. Make sure to check every 30 seconds to see how the process is going. It is possible to set them on fire in the microwave.