Today was one of those wonderful days off. No where to go and nothing pressing to do. I spent the morning outside playing with the dogs and weeding in the garden. Then I cut my oregano plant way back and brought all of it in to dehydrate. Dehydrating is one of my favorite ways to preserve my herbs. It is so easy to do and they are ready to use all winter long! Curious how to dehydrate your own herbs? Then read on, my friend!
Last night Matt and I sat on the back porch and shelled about a half bushel of peas while we listened to the radio and watched the dogs run wild. So, today, I had to blanch the little babies to get them ready for the freezer. Between the peas, the oregano, and the amount of housework I got done … I felt like today was a very productive day off for me! It wouldn’t have been nearly as productive if the UPS truck arrived sooner today. I ordered a new phone and it is supposed to be coming at some point today. So, I’ve been impatiently staring out the front window trying to use Jedi mind tricks to get the UPS truck to show up. Well, even after my best attempts, no such luck. So in an effort to pass the time, I did all the house chores I could think of. I’ve been meaning to trim back the oregano for some time now, before it flowers, but it is one of those things you never get around to. Until today!
Really, it takes all of 15 minutes to get prepped and into the dehydrator. The rest of it is automatic. The instructions for any herb you dehydrate is going to be the same! So, no matter if you’ve got basil, oregano, chives, dill, etc., you can dehydrate your heart out.
For this post, I use a electric dehydrator. They are quick, easy, efficient, and in my opinion the best way to dehydrate. There are a lot of them out there to choose from, but the one I use, own, and love is the Nesco Snackmaster Pro. Honestly, one of my favorite gadgets. I love it and use it all the time.
Step 1: Harvest your herbs, wash & dry.
You want to harvest your herbs preferably first thing in the morning. They are supposed to be the most flavorful in the morning before the sun hits them for the day. Then, bring your beauties inside and rinse them off and pat them dry. You may think that because you have an organic garden, you can skip over the washing portion. Well, I thought that too most of last summer until I packed Matt’s lunch with a fresh picked kale salad. Then at lunch, I get this text “so there is a worm in my salad … and it is still alive”. Needless to say, lunch that day was courtesy of the vending machine and I learned the importance of washing your veggies.
It is at this point I usually separate the leaves from the stem. It isn’t necessary, you could always do it after they dry. But, I think they dry quicker when removed and it is just easier at this point rather than when everything is a crumbly mess. The stems will give you off flavors, so you want to make sure you get them out of the equation at some point! Unless, of course, it is something like chives that have no stem! Dehydrate away, baby!!
Step 2: Arrange in your dehydrator in a single layer and dehydrate per the instructions provided with your dehydrator.
The temperature and time it will take to dry your herbs varies depending on the dehydrator you own. Most come with a instructional packet that tells you the temperature and approximate time of drying for herbs. When laying out your herbs, try to make them mostly in a single layer. If you crowd them too much, it will increase the drying time. On mine, the temp for herbs is 95 degrees and I normally dry them overnight, so let’s say about 10 hours. I normally put them in a couple hours before I go to bed and then check it first thing in the morning. Then, if it has to go longer, I check it every hour or two. You want the herbs to be very dry and crumbly. Don’t rush the process here, let it take the time it needs to fully dry. If they aren’t fully dry, you are going to have issues with the herbs keeping for you all winter long. You want the leaves to have no moisture feeling left to them. I really don’t think you can over do it on the drying. I’ll be honest, this batch of oregano was going for over 24 hours before Matt or I remembered they had been down there. Bonus: they are reaaaaalllly dry!
Insert here informational photos of leaves in dehydrator. I took them on my phone, thought I backed them up on my computer, got a new phone, went to computer to get said photos … they aren’t there. Oh technology, how you play games with me, and I always lose.
Step 3: Crumble them up and store in airtight jars.
Note- if they don’t crumble … go back to step 3 … they aren’t dry enough yet!!! But, if they do crumble, success! You are done! I store mine in these little ball herb jars which I really love, because the lid flips open to a shaker, which is very convenient sometimes. But, any airtight jars would work fine. Store them like you would any of your store bought dried herbs.
OVER TO YOU: Do you dry your herbs? What is your favorite way to preserve? Let me know in the comments below!!