Drying Herbs

Leafy herbs with long stems can be tied in bunches and hung upside down to air dry out of sunlight.  Ventilation and air circulation are very important.  Microwave drying is another method. When microwaved herbs have a tendency to retain their green color.  Place clean and patted dry herbs in a single layer between 2 paper towels.  Microwave about 2 minutes, being careful not to cook them, you only want to dry them. Leaves should remain whole and placed in a sealed container. When cooking with the herbs, you then crush the dried leaves, releasing the essential oils. Most dried herbs will keep 9 – 12 months.

Freezing herbs is a good alternative to drying when fresh characteristics are desired.  This method is especially good for basil as it does not dry very well.  Leaved stems can be placed in freezer bags.  Another option is to chop the herbs, place them in ice cube trays fill the trays with water and freeze.  Transfer the herb cubes to plastic freezer bags when solid.   Just drop them into your favorite stews or soups when you need them.

The best way to learn to cook with herbs is to try recipes that call for only a single herb. This way you become familiar with each individual flavor.  Herbs enhance the flavor already present in the food. After you are comfortable with an herb, try mixing it with others. When trying combinations, note which flavors you like and which ones are over powering.  Make notes on your recipe cards or in your cook book.

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