Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Drying Herbs the Italian Way

Many people ask me about my dried herbs and how I get them so dry, but retain the green color and vibrant flavor. Well…I use the Old Italian method that I learned from my grandmother when I was a young child. If you went to her house and looked in the basement you would see sheets of newspaper laid out all over the place, and on it you would find basil drying. The basement smelled amazing of the pungent basil.

Drying herbs is easy. Harvest the herbs in the morning when they are fresh and dry of any water or dew. Pick the leaves off the stalks and lay them out in a single layer on sheets of plain old newspaper that has been placed on a tray. Then put the trays in a dry place out of direct sunlight and wait for the herbs to dry. The newspaper may not be popular to read any more but it is fantastic for drawing out the moisture in the herbs. Make sure that the paper is clean and dirt free, of course.

It can take a couple of days or a couple weeks for your herbs to dry depending on the moisture level of the herbs and the humidity level or you house/drying area. Make sure that the herbs are completely dried and no moisture is present. If they are not completely dry let them dry some more. They will mold if they are stored with any moisture in them.

When the herbs are dry you can crush them or cut them up and store in air tight containers. I use Mason jars for my herbs. Grandma used a Mason jar with a sheet of waxed paper and a rubber band for the lid. Good old Italian ingenuity.

Get out there and dry some herbs. This is a great way to preserve your harvest and not waste what you have grown. Also you will have delicious herbs throughout the year to use in your recipes.

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