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We’re often asked for tips on how to harvest, dry and store herbs – so here goes! Our top tips on drying and storing herbs….
The woodier herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Bay and Oregano are often the easiest to dry because they don’t have high moisture content. Sure, air-drying can be a slow process but we love it because it doesn’t cost you anything and the herbs retain lots of their essential oils and flavour. Plus how pretty do they look all hanging in a row.
The best time to harvest your herbs is in the morning after the dew had dried and before they flower, that’s when their flavour is most intense. If you’re picking them for drying you don’t want any moisture on the leaves or they’ll rot – and be sure to shake off any dirt or insects that are trying to take a ride.
Harvesting your herbs helps to keep plants looking nice and bushy – just don’t cut the whole plant unless it’s time to replant it. About a 1/3 of the branch at a time is a good
rule of thumb.
I always remove the lower inch or so of leaves (you can save them for drying too) and then just bundle the cut herbs loosely together in a bunch – don’t jam too many sprigs in there – you want some air circulation. Then hang the bunch to dry in a warm, airy spot away from direct sunlight. Depending on the herb they’ll be dry in about ……xx
Or if you are a little impatient you could place the leaves and stems in the oven for 15 minutes at 150 degrees celcius. The leaves can then be stripped from the stems and kept in airtight containers. I like to store the leaves whole then just crush them before use to retain more flavour.
Some herbs like Basil, Chives, Mint and Tarragon can be successfully stored in airtight plastic bags in the freezer.
Coriander is one of those wonderful herbs that you can use from root to tip. But because it’s a fragile herb it’s tricky to store well. So if you can, have it growing close
to the kitchen so you can pick and eat it fresh from the pot or patch.
You can keep your coriander fresh for longer by treating it like a bunch of flowers. Simply cut the stems and pop it in a glass of water. Just don’t submerge any of the
leaves, re-cut the stems frequently and change the water every day or so. You can even put the jar in the fridge to keep it for longer. I’ve even stored chopped up
coriander in ice trays.
So there you have it – drying, harvesting and storing herbs Gardenettes style.