Drying Fresh Herbs

Although fresh cooking herbs are available practically throughout the year, there are a few months when they become more available and cheap, the best time in which you may purchase herbs from local growers that you can easily dry or freeze for a year-round supply, even if you grow your own herbs.

Drying herbs gives you the possibility to make preparations and mixes that probably will be of a higher quality than those you can found in grocery stores and supermarkets, with your own taste and are much, much cheaper than commercial brands that are offering mixings of herbs and spice as seasonings.

For retaining the highest flavor and quality of herbs, air drying or room drying is the best, easy, and inexpensive method for preserving herbs. There are electronic devices to dry herbs; moisture evaporates slowly and naturally during air drying, leaving the precious herb oils behind.

Dehydrators are useful when you are planning to dry large quantities of herbs or work with high moisture herbs such as basil. Some people believe that their microwave oven is the best way to dry herbs just because it is already in their kitchens. However, microwaves literally cook the herbs producing very poor quality.

Air dry your herbs using traditional methods that does not require any special implement and is as easy as following a few simple guidelines:

Practically all dried herbs can be kept for years, however for best results use them within a year, because herbs tend to diminish in flavor with age and the more aging a larger amount will be needed to achieve the desired flavor in cooking.

The only herb that will grow stronger in flavor during storage is sage. If you want to make rubbed sage, place dried leaves in a sieve or wire strainer over a plate and rub against the side. Sage is a very strong herb that rubbed creates smaller pieces for more even distribution in recipes.

To release all their full flavor, crush leaves or use a mortar and pestle to grind them, just shortly before adding to the recipe. Dried herbs should be added to soups and stews during the last half-hour of cooking, except if the recipe directions say something else.

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