Drying Herbs
Answered by: Yvonne Tremblay
Question from: JF
Posted on: February 20, 2007

How do you dry ...basil, rosemary, etc .in the microwave? Is there a better way to do this? My plants are doing great this summer and I would like to dry them for later on . What is the proper method to store them ?

Herbs that dry well (such as rosemary, thyme, sage, savory, tarragon, oregano, lavender and mint), I prefer to dry. Others like basil, parsley, chives, chervil, cilantro and dill, I prefer to freeze. Please refer to my previous replies on Preserving Herbs, Freezing and Pesto.

Herbs can be dried in bunches, after rinsing and drying with a salad spinner or blotting with paper towel, in a medium size paper bag that has hole poked in sides for ventilation. I scrunch the opening of the bag around the stems and secure with an elastic or string. Place bag upright in a dry place or cupboard. Check after about 4 days (if weather and home is dry it will go quicker, also varies with type and amount of herbs) to see how dry they are. Return to cupboard until leaves are crispy. Remove leaves and store in a small glass jar away from heat and light.

When drying herbs in a microwave, be sure not to overheat them. Spread herbs sprigs (if the leaves are small like thyme, tarragon, rosemary, oregano) or larger leaves (sage, mint) removed from stems, on a layer of 3 sheets of good quality paper towel. Cover with another layer of 2 sheet. Microwave on HI for 1 to 2 minutes. (Less time for higher wattage microwaves, or reduce power to MED-HI.) Remove, uncover and check to determine crispiness. If leaves are not all crisp, move some of herbs from centre to the edges. Carefully flip over the whole package so that the slightly damp bottom paper towel is now on top. If your microwave does not have a turntable, rotate 90 degrees. Microwave another minute, or until leaves are completely dry and crisp. They should now come easily off of the stems. Do not crush leaves; crush only when ready to use them in cooking. Store in a small jar (so there is not a lot of air space) away for heat and light. Stored properly, dried herbs should stay fragrant and flavourful until the next season. When they no longer have their distinct herb scent, they will not likely have much flavour either and should be discarded. Each season dry a fresh batch.

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