How To

Preserving Herbs [A How-To- Guide]

Preserving Herbs with a Food Dehydrator
Whether you have grown an additional amount of herbs compared to your need or want to collect all the herbs you have grown before the winters, you can always preserve them by dehydrating. It provides you with a continuous supply of flavorful herbs throughout the year. Air drying is recommended to dry herbs because sun drying takes away the flavor. You can just expose the leaves to hot and dry air and keep them in an aired space till the moisture is evaporated. A food dehydrator is a convenient way for air drying your herbs.
The two primary food dehydrators used for drying herbs are stackable and box-and-shelf. Stackable models are compact and inexpensive but require more physical work. There is a fan at the bottom that blows air up through the stack of trays containing herbs. The number of trays can be customized according to the amount of leaves you need to dry. You need to constantly rotate the trays for uniform drying of the leaves. Box-and-shelf models are expensive as compared to stackable models and take much large space but require less physical work. A box-and-shelf model has a main box containing all the trays. The fan is rear mounted and blows air through the trays in a uniform manner allowing all the leaves to dry at the same time.
The ideal time to harvest most of the herbs for preserving is right before when flowers are about to bloom at the budding phase. It is recommended to collect herb during the morning time when the morning dew has evaporated as this protects the leaves from wilting. Be careful when harvesting so that leaves are not bruised during the process. Once harvested, make sure not leave them out under direct sunlight or unattended.
You need to rinse the herbs in cool and shake them gently to get rid of any extra moisture. Put the leaves in a single layer on the trays of your food dehydrator. The time required by herbs to fully dehydrate varies from 1 hour to 4 hours. You need to check the herbs continually to make sure they dry uniformly and prevent over-drying. When the leaves started to crumble or stem breaks easily on bending, it means your herbs are fully dehydrated.
The recommended temperature for drying herbs is around 95 °F to 115 °F. In case you live in a humid environment, you may be required to dry herbs at 125 °F. To retain the full flavor of your herbs, try drying them on the lowest possible setting. In case your food dehydrator does not have a thermostat option then make sure that you do not leave the herbs in there for too long.
You may store the dried leaves as a whole and crumble them before using or coarsely crumble them before storing. Use airtight jars and keep them in a shady, dry, and cool space to preserve the flavor and fragrance for a longer time.

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