Drying Fresh Herbs
Cooking tips for the caring cook.
Under the proper conditions dried herbs have a shelf life of about 6 months. If you make your own dried herbs you won't have to wonder how long they've been sitting on the supermarket shelf, and you're guaranteed intensely flavored herbs every time you reach into the pantry.
Follow these simple guidelines for drying herbs at home:
- If you grow your own herbs, wash them the day before you pick them and harvest early in the morning.
- If you purchase picked herbs, wash and pat them dry.
- Tie a few sprigs together and hang the bunches upside down in a warm, dry spot--no warmer than 85 degrees.
- Keep the bunches out of direct sunlight, which can burn the leaves and destroy aromatic oils.
- Alternatively, lay herbs on a screen in the conditions described above. The herbs will be dry in 1 to 2 weeks.
- In the microwave: Lay leaves on a paper towel and microwave on LOW for 1 minute intervals; when leaves are almost dry, remove them from microwave and leave at room temperature, in the conditions described above, for 1 or 2 days.
- In a conventional oven: Place herb leaves on pan and turn oven to lowest setting possible; leave the oven door ajar.
- Store leaves whole or crush with a rolling pin before storing; bigger pieces retain flavor longer. Pack dried herbs in airtight glass containers and store in a cool, dark place.
- Check the containers the day after you fill them; if you see moisture on the sides of the container, repeat as much of the drying process as necessary.
Herbs are great in mashed potatoes - parsley, thyme and/or rosemary compliment potatoes wonderfully. To get the most out of using dried herbs in your mashed potatoes, add them to the hot milk mixture before stirring the milk mixture into the potatoes.
Heat and moisture soften the dried herbs and bring out their savory flavors and aromas.