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Sep 27, 2005 12:05 PM

Drying herbs

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What's the best way to dry herbs, especially parsley? Leave whole then crumble, chop first...?

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  1. I usually leave them whole, and crumble them when I'm using them dry.

    1. For most herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, marjoram and other tough-stemmed herbs) pick in late morning when dew has dried. Rubberband small bunches together and hang upside down somewhere warm and dry. When they are totally dry (several weeks) remove leaves from stems and put in jars. I wouldn't cut or crumble anything until you cook with it.

      BUT... parsley really doesn't dry very well. Like basil and cilantro it loses a lot of flavor when dried. I would be more inclined to freeze it or better yet make parsley pesto and freeze that in ice cube trays.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Junie D

        I live in a pretty humid environment and don't have AC to take the humidity out of our house. Do you still dry hanging up, it just takes longer? Seems they could go bad first.

        I've heard of oven drying. Is that the best method given a humid environment and lack of a dehydrator? If so, what is the best way to oven dry herbs? I've got a ton of thyme and oregano I'm going to need to pick and dry soon...

        1. re: adamclyde

          In high humidity I think your best bet would be oven drying - you don't want your herbs to mold before they dry. I haven't done it (didn't dry herbs when I lived in Louisiana) but I'd say set your oven as low as it will go since you don't want to cook them, and put herb sprigs, spaced far apart to allow maximum air circulation, on a rack set on a baking sheet. You may need to leave the door open or turn on and off the heat. Seems like a convection oven would be great for this.

          1. re: adamclyde

            I read somewhere, maybe in Martha Stewart Living, that you can dry herbs in the refrigerator. Pick the leaves and place them between a couple layers of clean tulle material. Roll it up loosely, tie the roll closed and place in fridge. I can't remember exactly how long it takes so you'll have to check it every few days. It worked fine the one time I tried it.

          2. re: Junie D

            Over the years I have found that it is BEST to leave herbs on their roots before drying. To get the dirt off,I wrap one or two plastic bags around the herbs, just above the roots BEFORE pulling the plants out of the ground. Then, with my hose on "JET," I spray ALL of the dirt away, without getting the actual plant wet: gently untwine into separate mini-plants. With plastic still around the plant head, shake vigorously to remove excess water. Lay out in sun for just enough time for the water [from the roots] to evaporate. Using the methods mentioned, I'll separate only four or five "branches" into a group. Turning them upside down, with ROOTS ATTACHED, I place ONLY THE LEAFY PARTS into a brown paper bag. The roots, themselves, stick out of the top of the bag. At the top of the bag, herbs inside, roots outside, I secure the bag with VERY TIGHTY wound kitchen string, leaving enough string left over to hang that individual bag onto a pants-clip clotheshanger: this equals two bags per hanger. Then I use the hook of the clotheshanger to hang the herbs from the top of my clothes closet, where I have screwed plant hooks into the ceiling. It's very dark in there and VERY dry. (No steam from kitchen or bath!!!) It does take about four to six weeks for most herbs to dry.
            When they are dry, I remove all leaves from the stems, tossing the roots away. DO NOT CRUSH OR CUT!! In dark glass containers WHOLE LEAVES are gently placed, without "stuffing" them into the jars; this prevents herb oils from seeping. Store in dark, COOL place.
            I have found that leaving the roots in place while drying allows the root-juice (HA) to enter the drying herbs. Much more flavorful and intense.