One of the greatest things about having a garden is the ability to grow fresh herbs instead of having to go to your local market to get them whenever you need. Building up a great collection in your pantry can keep your foods infused with different flavours, but what will you do when it’s the off season and getting those fresh herbs aren’t as easy as it is during the spring and summer months? Dehydrating your fresh herbs is a great way to preserve them, so you will be ensured to have great flavours and different herbs throughout the winter months.
Choosing Your Herbs
If you are going to be preserving your herbs, you will want to ensure that you are harvesting them from your garden at the best time possible. Doing so just before they flower is recommended, as this is when they have the most oil which is what gives off the aroma and rich flavors. If they have already flowered, ensuring that you harvest them when the leaves are dry in the early morning or evening is best.
Preparing Your Herbs
Once you have harvested your herbs of choice, you’re going to want to prepare them for drying by cutting off the large stems or branches that naturally come with your plants. Remove any old or damaged leaves to make sure that you are preserving the best parts of your herbs.
Before you move to dehydrating your leaves, try rinsing them in cold water and layering them in a thin layer on paper towel without allowing the leaves to touch.
Drying Your Herbs
Food dehydrators are made specifically for this type of project. They will allow you to dry out your herbs hassle free, within an appropriate amount of time. The great thing about dehydrators is that they do come with multiple trays, which will enable you to preserve large amounts of herbs at the same time and even multiple types of herbs. It’s a simple process that only requires you following along with the manual that comes with your food dehydrator and spreading your leaves evenly along the provided trays. Keeping in mind that some herbs may take longer to dry out than others is key and understanding the heating levels of your dehydrator as well as times, will help to make sure that your leaves are trying to the level that you want them to.
Storing Your Dried Herbs
Now that you have completed the process of preserving your herbs, storing them is another important element that you want to pay attention to. It is recommended that you not only store your herbs in a cool, dark place but also in an air-tight container such as a zip lock bag (make sure to remove all air) and even mason jars. Don’t forget to label the jars or bags!
Your herbs are dried, preserved and stored; now you have different flavors that will last you all throughout the winter. A good thing to keep in mind is that herbs will be their best up to one year before they start to lose their aroma and flavor. You will need more herbs to get more flavors after that amount of time. Using this process will keep you with fresh flavors all year round without breaking any budgets.