Easy Winter Recipes: Tips For Drying Herbs

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• Herbs can be dried in any number of ways: by tying the stalks into bundles and hanging them in a dry, well-ventilated place; laying them out on screens to air-dry; or in dry climates, placing them in large paper bags, then shaking the bags several times a day. Good air circulation during drying helps prevent the growth of mold. Small quantities can be dried on an open plate in a frost-free refrigerator or in a dehydrator.

• For best flavor retention, do not dry herbs in a conventional or microwave oven: essential oils volatilize at 85° to 110°F.

• Dry small-leaved herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano, and marjoram, on their stems. Strip the large leaves of basil, mint, sage, and lemon balm from their stems to speed drying.

• To help herbs such as basil retain their bright green color, lay them out in a thin layer between paper towels; stir the herbs at least once a day to aerate them.

• As soon as small-leaved herbs are crispy-dry, gently rub the leaves off the stems. Store all dried herbs in whole-leaf form; don’t crumble, grind, or powder them until you’re ready to use them.

• Store whole leaves in tightly sealed jars in a dark, cool spot or in the refrigerator or freezer, not in a cabinet over the stove where they will be exposed to heat. Hanging bundles of herbs are decorative, but they gather dust and lose flavor rapidly.

• To use dried herbs in recipes that call for fresh, substitute one-third to one-half as much dried herb as fresh. Start with the lesser amount and add more as needed.

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