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 12 Tips for Successfully Hang Drying Herbs

Fresh herbs have many wonderful properties. When you dry them
carefully many of these properties are preserved.

lavender plant in bloomSome herbs suitable for hang drying are: rosemary, sage, lemon balm, wormwood, lovage, parsley, mint and lavender.  

The following twelve tips will help you dry your herbs successfully
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 Tip 1. Pick your herbs just before you plan to dry them. They are just
right when they are fully developed and just commencing budding. Pick
off any damaged leaves or dead bits of stem.

Tip 2. Have a good look at the bunch and make sure that your herbs are
insect-free. Don't  wash your herbs after you've picked them unless they really need it. If theys look like they need washing, you could hose them a day or two before you pick them, allow them to dry, then cut your bunches for drying.

Tip 3. Have everything ready for drying just as soon as you cut them.

Tip 4. To allow the herbs to dry at a uniform rate, gather them in
similar size bunches. For each drying bunch - tie about 8 - 10 stems
together.bunches of herbs hanging to dry

      For the majority of the herb bunches, tie their stems together
      with string and hang upside down. Some of the larger bunches
      of herbs can be hung on a hook or wire by themselves. But,
      remember to hang them upside down so the essential oils settle
      in the leaves instead of the stems.

Tip 5. If your drying location is at risk of contamination (e.g. dust,
smoke, wind) place a paper bag (or other cover) over your herbs.
A warm, dry, dark location is the best place to dry your herbs.
(e.g. shed, loft or pantry cupboard)

Tip 6. In the right conditions, it takes approximately five days for
your herbs to dry. In cooler conditions, it may take up to two weeks
to dry. The best temperature for drying herbs is around 30o C (85o F).

red herb plant stems hanging to dryTip 7. It's OK to dry different types of herbs at the same time. Just make sure that you don't place them too close together. If the herbs are too close together the properties of one herb may taint the other.

Tip 8. When the herbs leaves are papery (fragile) the drying is complete. If your herb leaves collapse when touched, you have let the drying process go
                                            on for too long.

Tip 9. To store your herbs, remove the leaves from the stems. Try to keep the leaves intact as best as you can, in as large pieces as possible, even whole leaves if you can. This will help your herbs to keep their wonderful qualities. Tip: Gather the dried leaves on a piece of paper. Use the paper to pour your dried leaves into an
airtight container.
mortar and pestle for grinding herbsTip 10. Crush your herbs just before you plan to use them. dried herbs being stored and displayed in glass jars

Tip 11.
Store your newly dried herbs away from sunlight in an airtight
container, preferably glass. A dark glass container is ideal.

12. Advice from the Experts. Bea Kunz of Sage Hill Farms offers this helpful advice in her "News From Around the Farm" newsletter -
"Cutting and preserving herbs can be a joy if you do it in a proper manner.

Always plan your cutting times for early morning, just after the dew has dried. It's a good idea to give the gardens a good spraying the evening before to wash away any dirt or insects that may be lurking. After cutting, go forward with whatever method of preserving you do... the longer your herbs are left sitting the more essential oil you will lose.

If you are drying by the hanging method, hang them immediately, upside down , and in a clean and spacious place where the circulation of air is good. When hanging upside down the essential oil isn't lost, it travels to the end of the plant where the leaves are and is caught and dried .

Using a dehydrater is another form of drying, I really don't know that one is better than the other, but I love the texture and the color of herbs dried by hanging. I use both methods, depending on the herb and the time frame I'm working under."
                                                                     ...Bea Kunz

Read "Bea's Beatitudes/All About Herbs blog" for great recipes
and Herb Lore. Visit with her HERE

Subscribe to Sage Hill Farms "News From Around the Farm" newsletter

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