June 24, 2012

How to dry your own herbs

I always hate walking down the baking aisle at the grocery store, because everything is just so damn expensive-namely, spices. This year, I resolved to grow as many herbs as I could, so that I could dry them and use them in the winter time.  Drying your own herbs is so incredibly easy, and you can do it even if you do not have a food dehydrator. After you get this skill down, you can start making your own spice blends! Woo hoo!

Anyways, back to business. Drying herbs comes down to one important principle: get all the moisture out of the herb without burning it.

Here is what you will need:

Herb of your choice (I used rosemary), a rickety old well-loved cookie sheet, and some wax or parchment paper. You dont really need the wax paper, but it makes for a much easier cleanup. 
Rinse your herbs and pat them dry with a clean towel or paper towel. Then, take the stems off of your herb. Usually they are woody and do not taste good, so its always best to remove them. If you are using a leafy herb, like basil, just arrange the leaves on the tray so they are not overlapping.
 Put the herbs in the oven which has been set to the lowest setting. Our lowest letting is "warm." Leave the oven door slightly cracked. I stuck a wooden fork in there to give about a 1 1/2 inch gap. This is to keep the air circulating, so the herbs do not burn. Burnt herbs are no bueno.
I checked on mine every 15 minutes. It took about an hour in the oven to dry them completely. This is what they will look like when they come out. They should be brittle to the touch and break when you rub them between your fingers. The herbs should NOT be oily or flexible. If they are, put them back in the oven or throw them away. Making sure the herbs are completely dry is very important. If they don't dry completely they can harbor bacteria and fungus....which is also no bueno.

To store, put your herbs in a plastic baggie or spice container and store in a dry cool place (like a cupboard....). Then, sometime on a cold December day, add some to your soups. Yum.

No comments: