Best practice tips for dehydrating herbs
Author: Sabine Mordini-Pound
Overgrown herb garden? Follow the tips below to dehydrate herbs optimally and get the most flavour out of your dried herbs.
- It all starts with picking
- Preparation is important
- How to optimise herb drying
- Contact and support
The quality of your results will depend on what herbs you pick and how you pick them.
Pick only healthy plants that you would use fresh. If the quality is not good (overgrown foliage, damaged leaves, signs of disease,...) it isn't going to improve once in storage, only worsen. Those visible signs of damage will translate to off flavours and shorter storage life.
Use a sharp scissors or pruners, don’t rip or tear the plants.
Don’t harvest more than you can attend to within a few hours: leaving a pile of herbs to sit for a day or two will degrade the results. Heaped herbs can bruise and this will cause the oils you’re trying to capture to be released. The longer the herbs will sit before drying, the more they will start to deteriorate.
Prior to dehydrating, try not to chop or cut any parts of the herb that you will be dehydrating (leaves, petals, etc.). This will also release oils and reduce the flavour of your finished product. Instead, dry the plant as a whole and then break or crush after fully dehydrated.
If you wash your herbs first, dry any excess water (hang upside down to air dry or fold between a paper towel) from your herbs before placing them in your dehydrator.
Leave space between the plant material to allow good air flow. It’s best to dehydrate herbs on the mesh sheets if possible, rather than a solid/non-stick sheet.
As herbs are very light, it's best to 'sandwich' them between two mesh sheets to prevent them from blowing around in the dehydrator.
Remove any trays that are not necessary to allow enough space for larger leaves. It is important that all leaves receive plenty of air circulation.
Keep your dehydrator at the lowest temperature when dehydrating herbs: this will ensure you achieve the best possible flavour. Check on your herbs often: some herbs can be dehydrated to their potential within 4 hours.
Before placing into long term storage, leave the jar of dehydrated herbs on the counter for a day or two. Then open the jar and check the underside of the lid for any signs of condensation at the end of each day. If there’s moisture, your herbs need to dehydrate more.
It is always best to leave herbs in their whole form when storing them, as this preserves their aroma and flavour. You can crush your herbs immediately before using them.
Store your dried herbs in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dark, dry location.
While you may want to display them, any light or warmth will lead to faster deterioration. Wouldn't that be a shame?
We're here to help if you have any questions - contact us here, read more about dehydrating in our Dehydrator Buying Guide, and feel free to share your successes with us as well through photos or feedback!
Article contributed by Ivy & Hoot Digital Marketing Services