Drying HerbsJuly 09, 2014
Cooking with fresh herbs is awesome, they are so fragrant and sweet and add a completely new fragrant layer to a dish.
If you can grow your own you will save so much time and money, but until you cultivate you herb box or find yourself a spot to propagate you may find yourself buying bunches of herbs from the market as I currently am.
This means that I'm often left with some left over herbs that will, despite my best efforts, go bad and be wasted. To keep fresh herbs fresh for a day or so they should be treated like fresh flowers and kept in a vase or jar in a cool place with fresh water submerging their stalks. Beyond a day or two like this though they start to get a bit sad and soggy.
Often I infuse spirits with left over herbs to make interesting cocktails, like my Mint Vodka.
Dried herbs are a very different beast to fresh, affording bolder richer flavours and often associated with heavier wintery dishes. I have found though, much like making anything yourself, home drying can result in a lighter version of the store bought dried variety of many herbs.
Simple lay your herbs out on a large baking tray, press them with absorbent paper towel to remove excess moisture then pop into the oven at about 250f/120c. After about half an hour, turn out the heat and allow the oven to cool with the herbs in it.
I usually do this post making dinner. I'll remove what ever i'm cooking from the oven and leave the door ajar to cool it down to about 250f whilst we eat then I pop the herbs in, potter about and tidy up then turn off the oven and leave the herbs until morning.
When you return to them they should be still a vibrant green but like butterfly wing, crisp and delicate.
Scrunch them from the stalks, discarding any thicker stalks that have become very sharp and store in an airtight jar.
As long as they are kept dry they should keep for some time, though their flavour will be less than it's best after a couple of weeks.