Thursday, August 23, 2012

Drying herbs with your microwave


Michele K Koskinen
Gardeners are often frugal types that love to preserve for the winter the bounty of the summer. Drying herbs has been around forever. Historically, you would harvest the herbs and hang them in bunches to dry. The problem however, all herbs do not air dry the same way. When I began drying herbs I often ended up with brown tasteless leaves and not until I started tray drying in the oven did it change. I also found the type of herb being tried makes a difference. Some are better at air bunch drying than others.

Dried herbs do not always retain their aroma, but will retain the taste for up to a year. I dry basil, oregano (several types), tarragon, thyme, mint, marjorum, parsley and lemon balm for cooking and a variety of flowers for crafts.  The method I use.........the microwave. I have found it easy and the herbs retain their color and taste on a consistant basis.

The trick to drying successfully in the microwave is to carefully monitor the process. (DO NOT USE RECYCLED CONTENT PAPER PLATES OR TOWELS AS THEY OFTEN WILL SPARK.)
Take the cut, washed and dried fresh herbs and place the stems of small leaf herbs (oregano, tyme, marjorum) on a paper towel or paper plate. Cover with a paper towel and hit high for 30 seconds. Check and continue the 10 sec check routinely until dried. Do not over dry. For large leaf herbs such as basil, sage or mint, bay you may want to remove the leaf from the stem and dry the whole leaf.

Let cool and the use one of two methods to remove the leaves. 1. Roll the stems with your palms to remove the leaves onto a cut piece of wax paper. Use the wax paper as a funnel to put into a jar. OR 2. Slide your fingers down the stem and the leaves will fall again onto the wax paper. Whole leaves can be put into a jar whole or crushed.


There are many resources on drying herbs and flowers. I got started with the Rodale Herb Book after finding it at a yard sale years ago. Today the websites for advice are numerous. Type in dried herbs or microwave dried herbs, and up comes hundreds of sites. Have fun.

1 comment:

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