Drying and Storing Herbs for Winter

herb plantsI use a lot of herbs from my garden in my spice blends, so I thought I’d include directions on how I do it.

The easiest way to dry herbs is to first wash them, and bundle them with string or rubber bands. drying herbsThen just hang them in a cool dark place upside down until they are dried out and crunchy. Then just crumble them up and store in a jar in your spice cabinet.

Washing is important as there’s nothing worse than having grit in your dishes from the herbs you use.

herbs in ice cube traysAnother way to store them for winter is to wash them, pick the leaves off of the stems and put them into ice cube trays.

Cover with water or broth and freeze. When they are frozen transfer them to a bag and use them when you want to add flavor to a recipe, or use them in  place of oil for sauteing vegetables. Just put one or two cubes in a hot skillet, add your vege’s and saute until desired doneness. If it dries out, just add a tablespoon or two of water or broth. Healthy and delicious! You’d never miss the oil.

If you’re drying Rosemary or Sage, it will probably take a bit longer as their leaves are thicker than parsley, cilantro, basil or  mint.

I don’t have a dehydrator, so I just use the oven. It’s so easy, here’s how I do it:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and dry the herbs and remove the leaves from the stems.drying herbs in oven Lay the leaves out in a single layer and bake at 225F for about half an hour, stirring about every ten minutes. It’s important to stir them around as the corners and sides dry out before the middle. Just make sure to keep an eye on them, as they will burn easily once they get close to being completely dry. When they are crispy, just crumble them into a jar after they cool off and store them with your other spices.

grated lemon zestYou can also use this method to dry lemon or lime zest and even fresh ginger and turmeric. These are a great addition to any homemade spice blends. Just grate the zest, ginger or turmeric with a microplane grater. Lay it out evenly on parchment and bake for about 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes as they dry much faster than herbs. The ginger or turmeric will take a bit longer than the citrus zest as it has a higher water content.

You can also dry herbs in a microwave, although I prefer using the oven. Just lay the leaves out on paper towels, cover with another paper towel, and microwave 1-3 minutes depending on how many herbs you are drying at one time.

You need to stop it and stir them around every minute because the microwave doesn’t dry them as evenly as the oven.

I hope you try growing your own herbs and storing them throughout the winter months. It brings a taste of summer into your home at every meal! It really doesn’t take much time and it is so worth it.

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