Skip to main content

Drying herbs

Over summer, I have such an abundance of herbs, its hard to believe that in winter they will all die back and I'll have to resort to using bought dried herbs again.  This year I had a plan, I wanted to dry my own herbs, the aim was herb self-sufficiency!


I had borrowed an Excalibur drier from a friend a few years ago and managed to dry some parsley, as well as tomatoes and apples, before I gave it back.  Our thoughts on this drier were that it was HUGE and loud, but very efficient at drying.  With our small kitchen, and an aim to mainly dry herbs rather than worrying about fruit (as we don't have access to any cheap/free fruit at the moment), I wanted to use something smaller (and therefore cheaper).

I did have a very brief  attempt at air drying herbs, but in our humid climate, all I achieved was mouldy leaves!

As an early Christmas present for myself I bought the Sunbeam food dehydrator in December.

Sunbeam food dehydrator - "healthy and natural snacks"!
I decided to start with the sage plant as it was in need of a good trim anyway.  It turns out that herbs actually grow better if they are pruned regularly, however its difficult to use all that summer growth and in the past much of it has ended up in the compost, or the herbs have been scragly, woody and out of control!
Sage before...
....and after the trimming
First I washed the leaves, then spun them in the lettuce spinner, then arranged them in the drier......

Washing the sage leaves

Spinning the sage leaves
Loading the dehydrator

Running the dehydrator

The instruction booklet that came with the drier recommended 2-4 hours for drying herbs.  After 4 hours the leaves were still not dry.  At 9pm on the day of drying (having started around 10am), the leaves were still not dry!  Now I'm not complaining, because I knew that I wasn't buying the best dehydrator on the market, I just wanted something that would get the job done eventually.  I don't think I'll ever use it for fruit (although that uses a higher temperature setting, so it might work quicker).

Anyway, I turned off the dehydrator overnight and left the leaves in there to continue drying, then I turned it on for a few hours the next day until the leaves were dry.  I wanted them to be crumbly dry, so that they would keep for a long time.

Having dried a large jar of sage, I decided to try oregano.  This time I washed and spun the leaves the day before I put them in the dehydrator, so they were not as damp when I started the drier.  I also used fewer leaves and so only needed 3 trays in the drier.  I left the leaves on the stalks (as suggested by the user manual).  This time drying didn't take quite so long, but was still run over a few afternoons until I was satisfied with the results.  I can't decide whether leaving the stalks is a good idea, as that just seems like more plant material to dry and it can be more work to remove the dried leaves.

My plan is to keep drying herbs so that I have a good supply over winter and so that the herbs keep growing well over summer (with regular trims).  So far I've dried oregano, basil, sage, thyme and mint.

The herbs I've dried so far....
and then I tried silverbeet, not sure what I'll use it for, but why not?

Do you dry your own herbs?  Or other foods?

Comments

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko and give the vine a structure to climb over.  In summer, the vine will produce tiny flowers that will eventually swell into choko fruit.  The vine doesn't like hot dry weather.  And it doesn&#…

Native bee hotel

Like I wrote back here, native pollinators are as important (if not more important) than honey bees for pollinating crops and native plants.  There are a few things you can do to attract native pollinators to your garden:

Grow flowers and let your veges flower to feed the pollinators all yearHave a source of insect-friendly water in the garden (shallow dishes are best)Provide somewhere for them to live/nest/lay eggs - a bee hotel! In Australia, our native pollinators consist of both stingless native bees, which live in a colony like honey bees, and lots of solitary bees and wasps.  These solitary insects are just looking for a suitable hole to lay their eggs.  You may be familiar with these in sub-tropical and tropical areas, in summer you will find any and all holes, pipes and tubes around the house plugged with mud by what we call "mud daubers".  These area a real nuisance, so I'd rather provide some custom holes near the garden where they can live instead, so I don'…