If you enjoy the flavor that fresh herbs can bring to our foods as much as I do, then preserving them for fall and winter cooking makes a lot of sense. Drying herbs such as this flat leaf Italian parsley, basil, sage and rosemary is a time-honored method of preservation. It's simple and really doesn't take much time to do.
You can simply hang bundles of herbs in a cool, dry place until they dry. The only disadvantage here is if it takes too long, they can become dusty. And light can break down some of their flavor. I prefer an approach that gets the job done a little faster.
I simply gather the herbs in the early morning, wash them and pat them dry. And then break off the leaves and spread them on cookie sheet or recycled aluminum trays like these. I will leave them in the oven on low heat not to exceed 90 degrees for several hours. But it is important to check them regularly.
Once all of the moisture is driven from the leaves, just crush or crumble them like this and then store them in airtight jars in a cool dark place. This makes good use of small jars you might otherwise throw away. It's a form of recycling. I like to label and date them. And you will be amazed at just how much it takes to fill a jar once the herbs have dried.
It's important to remember when using dried herbs in cooking, it only takes half as much of dried herbs as it does when they are fresh. You see, in the drying process you concentrate all the essential oils.
Drying your own herbs will not only save you money but it is a great way to enjoy the flavor of your garden in every season.
From the garden, I'm Allen Smith.
P. Allen Smith Gardens
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