Drying Herbs

ClipArtDryingThere will be organic herbs in many of your Upper Meadows Farm CSA shares. Some you’ll undoubtedly use right away. But some you’ll want to hoard for later, to sprinkle on the potatoes, tomatoes and other tastes to come. Luckily, herbs are one of the easiest foods to preserve at home.

I have a food dehydrator, but it’s a big, boxy machine that takes up a lot of counter space in my small kitchen. As a result, I tend to bring it out only for the big tasks, like drying the dozens of pounds of apples and peaches my kids harvest each year.

To dry herbs, all I really need is a rubber band and a hook in a warm corner of the kitchen. I simply wrap the band around the stems of a small bunch of herbs, and hang them up upside down. A few days in a warm spot out of direct sunlight is all it takes. When the leaves crumble off the stems easily, I knock them all off onto a paper towel, let them dry a day or two more, and then use the paper towel to funnel them into a glass jar recycled from supermarket spices. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight, and you’ll have that wonderful taste all summer and fall.

You can also dry herbs in an oven or microwave, but like using the dehydrator, that seems like a bit of overkill to me. For more tips on drying–as well as canning, freezing, pickling, fermenting, curing and smoking–try the University of Georgia’s National Center for Home Food Preservation. It also has a thorough online class that will teach you all kinds of home food preservation tricks.

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